16 Replies Latest reply: Aug 15, 2012 3:10 PM by tansy RSS

    What the heck...?

    New Member

      How do I respond to this?


      I have been renting my home since the beginning of July and have had fabulous guests and experiences. All unsolicited 5 star reviews, just received another today from my weekend guests. In fact, I've been told my house is way more than the photos suggest and they were very happy. One guest told her family to give her time to take professional photos of my home, indoors and outdoors and then she sent me a flash drive in the mail with 73 pictures of my home to use online!


      1. Yes, the trains do run often but there are crosswalks that can be taken which are very safe. They didn't have to cross over the tracks and go through the fence it's just a shortcut residents use.


      2. The house was built in 1920 and this was stated clearly in my ad. This is such an odd comment I'm flabbergasted. It is a historical home and I take great pride in constantly keeping it clean and upgraded.


      3. Two hours cleaning? Cleaning what? I have all hardwood flooring and Swiffer it again while waiting for guests to arrive just to be sure. Why didn't he mention something to me? I would have sent them out to lunch on me and clean whatever they did not see was up to par.


      4. I'll give him the limited seating in the living room. I've been going back and forth on what to provide and am now getting a sleeper/sofa since guests with a lot of kids use an air mattress that they bring with them in anticipation of using it in a room.


      5. It was an oversight not mentioning that I live in the guest house in the back. All of my other guests are aware of this and even invite me over or come over to talk to me. I take great care in keeping to myself and have a deck I use on the other side of the house so they rarely see me.


      Lastly, they bleached 2 brand new towels, ran the heater in the house when it was 75 degrees outside (which took some effort to program on) and I have a note on the washer requesting guests to use the 30-minute "quick" cycle  and they used the 75-minute "heavy" cycle and the extra rinse. Can't wait to see my utilities bills. They also left the house a mess with trash piled up in the kitchen and the bedrooms a mess. Even my cleaning person commented.


      Thanks for any suggestions you might have.






      We travel extensively as a family and chose this property because of its size and proximity to the beach.  We use VRBO often, and have to say that this place was decent, but not what we were hoping.  First the good:  The owner is sensational and very nice.  She made the process easy, and she was very accommodating.  If we needed something, such as propane for the heat lamps, she took care of it.    This property is close to the beach, but not necessarily a safe walk.  You need to cross train tracks (which the metro uses frequently) and go through a fence to get there, and we were not too thrilled about our kids going there on their own.  Moonlight Beach is one of the best beaches I have ever been to.  The decks are great and we spent a good amount of time on the main deck just hanging out.  The barbeque area is great and very easy to use.  This is a great house to entertain in.  The dining area is great, with alot of space to eat and just communicate.  The bad:  The house is very old and you can tell.   When you are spending as much money as we were per night their are some things that you just expect.  We were very disappointed in the shape the house was in when we arrived.  We spent the first 2 hours cleaning the house so that we could be comfortable in it.  One of my kids has asthma and is very sensitive to dust.  This place was full of dust on the floors and on the appliances, and their were spider webs hanging everywhere on the walls.  In the downstairs bathroom their was no door (just a curtain) to the toilet and shower.  While there was alot of space in the dining room to sit and eat, their are only two chairs in the living room.  With 8 people, their was only room for two people to sit and watch TV. There is no couch or other seating at all in the living room.  The upstairs was nicer, but still in need of cleaning.  As I said, we made it work, but for the amount of money we were spending I would have expected that the place would be cleaner upon our arrival.  Lastly, while the owner is great, we were never told that she would be staying in the back house, whose front door is right near the main deck.  Their is not a sense of privacy at the house because the owner is on the property as well.  I just wish we were told that their would be others on the property at the same time we were renting it.  She was very nice, but it was awkward and the fact that the property was not as clean or nice as we had thought was a bit of a let down.   

        • Re: What the heck...?
          sophie Senior Contributor

          Was this a 5 star review?

          • Re: What the heck...?
            Senior Contributor


            I'm sorry you have to deal with this. I've  found over the years that you can't please some people. No matter how much you communicate, some just don't seem to hear (or read).Some people are clean freaks and nothing short of new construction with new furnishings are going to please them.


            Do you talk with your guests soon after they have left your home to see how things went? It's a good idea to do so. Sometimes you can head off a bad review by doing so.


            I once had guests who complained about dust on one of our ceiling fans. Turns out it was a bit of paint overspray that had not been removed. But, I did speak with my housekeeper and asked her to make extra efforts when dusting.  (I informed my guest that I'd taken that action)


            Our home is over 110 years old, but I take pride in keeping it painted and clean. The VAST majority of our guests rent BECAUSE it's in an historical area and they love older homes. I've had one group of 30 somethings tell me they really wished I'd update the kitchen. Well, ok, that was their "normal". We have nice appliances, though no sub zero freezer or double door refrigerator. The counter tops are not granite (they are lovingly restored 80 year old porcelin).  


            Furnishings: Probably a good idea to provide seating for the # of guests you can accommodate. A sleeper sofa sounds like a good idea. I also have several LARGE pillows in my den area that kids can use to set or lay on while they watch TV. 


            You didn't say how old the kids were, but i have to wonder who'd let their children go to the beach alone, if they are too young to know how to cross a train area. Water can be very dangerous, especially at the beach.


            AS for the back house- what if that had been a regular tenant?  Someone bothered by the owner being on the site, in a seperate house makes me wonder what kind of privacy they needed . It's sounds like you did nothing wrong there, unless it was not telling them you are there.


            I guess you could respond to the review by stating you'd spoken with your cleaners, and that if the guests had informed you right away that they weren't happy with the condition of the home you'd have taken care of it right away.


            If your home is priced correctly in your area (same amenties, etc.) I don't think you should worry. It's always a good idea to view your competion, see what they offer and adjust your pricing accordingly.  I have a family member who's wife won't stay in our home (for free), because I don't have a jen air stove top. So, they pay top dollar to stay elsewhere on the Island - which is fine with me!  There a lots of options out there that offer top of the line ameneties, but they cost more to rent that our home.


            I'm sure you'll get some other good responses for owners in here very soon.

            Hang in there!


              • Re: What the heck...?
                New Member



                Thank you for taking the time to write a thoughtful response to my post. I haven't responded to the review as I want to take the emotion out of it and I woke up this morning annoyed by him. I certainly am going to choose my words carefully and keep it brief.


                I am going to change my bio and picture on my profile and add that the guest house has a caretaker in it. I'm living in it as I renovate it to be a vacation rental, too.


                Thanks again,


              • Re: What the heck...?
                sage Senior Contributor

                I think many owners make a mistake of attempting to respond to reviews when it is not necessary, and certainly not helpful.  And I think that the contents of a review often say more about the reviewer than the property.  The statement "We spent the first 2 hours cleaning . . ." tells anyone who takes the time to read this review a lot about this writer.  Anyone who does not take the time to read the review and see that is unlikely to read a response.


                When an owner responds to a less than glowing review it often comes off as if the owner is, at best, defensive and testy, traits which prospective guests may want to avoid.


                It sounds like you are planning the right moves to address the legitimate issues raised by the guest.  In particular, I think making clear in the listing that you live on the property is important.  Many guests will find it a plus that you are there to respond to any issue that might arise, to give information on local attractions, and just be friendly.  But there are many who would be uncomfortable in such a situation, and it is best for you and them that they rent elsewhere.  However, in conjunction with telling people that you live on site, consider changing your photo and some of the personal information; that photo and the mini-bio that people will interpret to mean you are a single mom might draw some 'guests' of a predatory nature.  If you want to keep the photo and personal information, put in the listing that a caretaker lives on site (you don't need to tell casual browsers that it is you who is the caretaker).


                No property is going to be exactly right for everyone.  These guests were some of those who would have been happier elsewhere, but based on your other reviews, it is clear that those who have more thoroughly evaluated your property find it delightful. 

                  • Re: What the heck...?
                    New Member



                    Thank you, too, for your thoughtful and insightful response. You and Msdebj both offered good ideas and support.

                    I'm surprised he didn't give me less than a 3...


                    I learn through each guest how to refine my rental process. I think I'll add something in the confirmation email that if there is anything they are not happy with to contact me right away and I will do my best to rectify it so they can enjoy their vacation.


                    I love reading all of the discussions because I'm learning so much from all of you.


                    Thank you,


                  • Re: What the heck...?
                    carol Premier Contributor

                    You have a beautiful property, and Msdebj and Sage have given you great advice.  I would suggest strongly that you add a regular sofa, not a sleeper sofa, however, to your family room -- you have four bedrooms, already sleeping 8, why encourage guests to bring even more people?   If your family room is already too small for 8 people, where will 10 people sit? 


                    Is there any other room that you could move the TV to, perhaps a living room that is not pictured? I know historical homes are sometimes short on big open spaces that seem to be so popular today, so this may not be possible. Your dining room is huge -- does it open into the family room in any way so you could add comfortable seating around the edge that spills into the family room?  Or even add a TV to one of the larger bedrooms and a few comfy chairs so guests who really wanted to watch TV in a big group could use that room instead.  (Of course, if it were me, I'd spend every moment on your beautiful decks watching the sun set with a margarita in my hand instead of watching TV!!!) 


                    Don't be discouraged about this review, it's really not all that bad.  They do start out with many nice compliments.    I would try to not sound defensive in your response, but instead, show you are able to respond to constructive criticism  --- maybe something like "Oh, I wish you had told me immediately about any problems with the cleaning, I would have immediately taken steps to remedy it"  and "thank you for the great suggestion about the family room -- I've added a new sofa to make more seating."  and "I apologize for not showing you the slightly longer but safer path to the beach" 


                    Travelers like to see that owners listen and respond -- it means the owner is really trying to make this a special experience for them.   No place is really perfect and seasoned travelers do not expect perfection.  


                    That saId, I share the concern expressed above about revealing that you live on the property.  I wonder if you could ask them nicely to remove the part about where you live?  Or ask Homeaway to not post the review because of this comment?  It really is an invasion of your privacy to reveal where you live, especially since your picture shows you are so attractive. 

                      • Re: What the heck...?
                        New Member

                        Hi Carol,


                        Thank you for replying and being so kind. I think you're right about getting a regular sofa (someone will sleep on it anyway and sofa/sleepers are not comfortable). In the "TV room" also called the "fireplace room", I can fit a sofa and loveseat plus the 2 club chairs.


                        Recently, I had 14 people in the house; 6 adults and 7 children under 7 (whew!), and they would let the little ones watch tv after a full day and I never had any complaints about the seating, albeit a fair complaint. Typically, my guests start the day with coffee on the deck and end the evening on the deck drinking wine or cocktails - they get it!


                        I like the advice you and msdeb and sage offer about how to respond and I want to sound regretful about not knowing in time to make their stay more comfortable.


                        About living on the property, I feel a responsibility to let my guests know I am there but I agree I don't need to post it in my ad.


                        Thank you,


                      • Re: What the heck...?
                        anja Senior Contributor

                        You have got some good people commenting, before me. Their viewpoints and advice mirrors mine -- especially on how to handle your "owner's response".  Remember, your response should be written with your future prospects in mind and not with a defensive mindset. They are expressing their opinion, however, and you can clarify what you feel is inaccurately stated, using the right tone.


                        You know, if you'd like to draft  a response, you are always welcome to run it by us here --- for opinion, before you post it.


                        Between the two of us, I would be very dissatisified with the "quality" of this guest who I believe was inconsiderate during the stay (even though he had kind words for you personally in the review). True, it's not easy to please everyone, and some people will nitpick.  But, it's my opinion  that it is inconsiderate not to communicate their particular dissatisfaction when they were in residence --  you were very easy to reach!


                        They never gave you a chance to "make it right" for them -- they came, stayed, judged your home, left, aimed + fired, in public. They complained about the price -vs- quality so the very least they should have done was to speak to you, on the spot about this. You might have agreed to compensate, in some way --- you could have weighed the situation --- and decided -- if you were given the opportunity.  You could have arranged another cleaning for them, after they showed you where it was not to their standard.  Instead, they claim to have used two hours cleaning!  Not necessary --- they should have communicated ....you could have remedied this and "changed their experience" of the place. Never mind that the house is old, it's a classic, a landmark,  an historic beauty....it's advertised accurately......photos reflect a lovely home full  of character, charm and ambience of that era. It's their fault for choosing wrongly,  IMO.  Photos help to dispell worries ....I think that your photos reflect what you are offering in terms of the area, and the home itself.  {I'd love  to stay in your  house!}  I think describing the path to the beaches better and maybe even including a photo,  if possible, could be helpful  (or, maybe I missed that in the ad, if it's there already).   I try to "cut the nitpickers off at the pass" by including an image and/or a brief description of anything that I imagine someone could make an issue out of....so no one can say that "they were not informed" before they arrived...or that my ad is not entirely accurate.   I did notice right away that you included the proximity of the highway to the house, as well as the Google map indicating it.....and presenting it as a benefit for convenience, which I would think it is.  I have people all the time asking me for the distance from the house to the main road...maps aren't enough it seems....and whether there is traffic noise.  (My biggest noise complaint was over too many birds making a racket as dawn breaks.)  So, I address people's concerns with an orientation in my offers....not just write  about my house's features.  I encourage from them a well-informed decision.


                        So, their non-communication, giving you *no chance* would be really my greatest dissatisfaction about this entire circumstance. I agree with "sage" that often the negative personality reveals themselves in their *reviews*, especially when all of the other guest reviews are so favorable.  But, this experience for them and for you could have been very different if they just spoke up.


                        I would respond to this review.   When responding, remember it's their opinion. Keep your response short and constructive (always) as already suggested, but I would definitely mention that because you live so near, any issue could have been easily solved for their convenience over anything that didn't seem right.


                        They blew their opportunity to "get immediate satisfaction". That is the benefit of having an owner either on-sight or nearby. It's just too bad that this person, instead, viewed your physical presence as a "minus" instead of a "benefit" to help them.


                        I agree with other posters here -- I would not advertise my most personal details about myself in my property listing. It creates unnecessary vulnerablity.


                        It's not at all a comparable situation,  but I live next door  and someone once told me *upon checking out* that both bedside lamps did not work (they were there 8 nights for heavens sake) and the back deck light was not working. When they drove off, we discovered that they disconnected both lamps by switching off the main box for the lights from behind one bedside table (they guy slept with a device he had to plug in to help him sleep, but instead of using an available plug on the box, he removed it and plugged his device directly into the wall socket --- voila, no lights!).... and they also flipped the wall switch for deck sensor lights   --- and there is sign there not to touch the switch!  No big deal, they said. But, why the flipping heck didn't they just come over, call, email or use a smoke signal to get my attention, while in residence?  When  I asked them, they said it didn't matter because they went straight to bed every night very early so they didn't need the night deck lights -- or the bedside lamps.


                        I live in a house, next door. I certainly do inform ALL prospects of my near presence --- in ALL my offers sent (and it is stated so in my ad listings, as well that I am nearby) so there are never surprises or dissatisfaction about my nearby presence. People need to know this.  I know, for a fact, that some people will not book a place if the owner is so close {I've been told by a few).  And, I think, it's too bad for them !!!   It's actually their loss when they pass me up -- they really should hear about the set up, first, before deciding against my place just because I'm near by.   Every single guest of ours has the ultimate in privacy --- the layout, landscaping, private driveways, no shared faciliies, privacy-walled decks, no on-looking windows ensure that.  And, I'm the most unintrusive owner anyone could wish for (reviews reflect this). My own privacy is paramount so I know what people expect.


                        Most importantly, I can do a lot to ensure the quality of someone's stay just by being close when / if anything is needed or goes wrong.  Believe me, my near presence has helped my guests at times of need, in all situations, whether of minimum need or maximum help for "their personal emergencies" --- and if there are any property hiccups, even earthquake tremors can cause outages or just plain jitters.    So, I work it into my ad that we are 100% Owner Managed and unintrusive neighbours who will welcome our guests, and be happy to help, upon request.

                          • Re: What the heck...?
                            New Member

                            Thank you for your support and helpful comments. I haven't responded to it yet but I will. I'm on a much needed vacation!


                            Thank you again,


                              • Re: What the heck...?


                                I am sorry that you have to deal with this.

                                I would write them a letter stating that since they never ever told you that there was a problem with the cleanliness of the house.  They don’t state it, when they get there, it’s their loss.  You should also request the photos of said disaster.  If they cannot prove that the house was indeed filthy and uninhabitable with photos or reports to you, you might consider asking them to remove the review, as your attorney would have no problem arguing that as slander.

                                Also, the part of revealing your personal residence should also be grounds for immediate removal.

                                You might add a clause to your contract that states if there are problems upon arrival, guests must make a formal complaint with you before taking any other actions.

                                I hope this helps!




                                VR Consulting now Available!

                                  • Re: What the heck...?
                                    Active Contributor

                                    I don't think your house was filthy...I think they may be paranoid about dust...for me it said it all that they have a child with asthma ...near a beach you will always have extra dust/sand, we are plagued by it.


                                    Also they didn't 'get' you were on site either.


                                    Don't despair, take points from what they said and act on them...no matter how many friends and family look at your place they will never give an honest assessment as they worry about hurting your feelings...the brutal fact is we all get negative criticisim...but as long as we learn if it is not unwarranted!

                                      • Re: What the heck...?
                                        New Member

                                        Hi Tansy,


                                        I asked Homeaway to edit the review or remove it and they said no. I read the tips on responding to a negative review and they said to address future renters and not to address him. I will address the fact someone is in the guesthouse in the backyard - it's a 1/2 acre lot... Also, adding a sofa to the living room. As far as cleaning goes I'm not touching on that because it was clean.


                                        Thank you for your opinion.



                                          • Re: What the heck...?
                                            Active Contributor

                                            A tip I've been given too re negative reviews is to get it buried as quickly as possible...request past rentors to review you...the ones you know were happy & haven't got round to it...I got a stinker & contacted folk - one guest has been 4 years in a row with next year booked has never done a review...she is a hotel manager & had just had a negative review in for her famous hotel so she was primed...she let everyone know that she felt insulted that this negative review for us questions her choice of place for her holiday...it was a brilliant response! But she also let me know that the hotel chains encourage lengthy replies to any negative review as it pushes it off the page & folk don't read all the pages!!

                                        • Re: What the heck...?



                                          I very strongly agree with Lara's counsel.  I would recommed that you immediately request, if not demand, that VRBO, HomeAway, et. al. immediately remove this review for your safety.


                                          On edit, I would also suggest that once the reveiw has been removed from the system you go back into your original post and edit it as needed.  


                                          Good luck with it.  Bob

                                    • Re: What the heck...?

                                      Our listing states that we live on site.  We think it keeps the problem renters away as they will not be able to have rowdy parties or huge groups of young people here.  The renters that we do attract are mostly snowbirds and they appreciate that we live here and can help them with any problems they may have.  You may wish to state that you are close by, or in the same town and then before any money changes hands explain that you are actually on site in the rear cottage.  That can protect you as well as inform renters up front that you are on the property.  Perhaps you could send them photos of the placement of your property if they are concerned about privacy. 


                                      I always tell guests to let me know if there is anything they need.  Our housekeepers are very good about making sure all is in working order as well.  Perhaps you could let guests know at check in that if anything is not up to their standards they must inform you within a certain time frame (4 hours? 24 hours?). 


                                      We received one complaint in a review of our property in Costa Rica.  It was never communicated to me even though I asked for feedback directly about anything that needed attention.  The complaint was that the fridge was too loud and that there was only one tv (they wanted a tv in the bedroom).  I debated replying but eventually just wrote that we were not aware of a problem with the fridge and had asked our property manager to get it repaired.  (We don't live in Costa Rica and get there only once per year.)  I think it demonstrated that we acted quickly and were concerned about our guests comfort.  (I didn't comment on the tv - our ad says there is cable tv in the living room only.)  You can't really say anything negative about guests in your reply or it reflects badly on you.


                                      Good luck!