Interested in the views of others on this before I decide how to play this :
Guests called our management company several hours before they arrived to say "we hope the pool heat is on and the BBQ is there because the HA listing says they are included" :
1. The listing makes it crystal clear that pool heat if required is chargeable as is BBQ rental.
2. We give detailed pre-arrival information and again offer guests of the option of pool heat and BBQ rental - we prefer advance notice of pool heat as we switch it on the day before to ensure the pool is warm on arrival.
We e mailed the guest, and our management company returned their call, to inform them accordingly.
E mail was returned by the guest ordering pool heat. Invoice sent via our in house system and pool heat switched on. We have a sensor in the pool equipment that gives us a minute by minute temperature reading - by 11 a.m. next day the pool was nice and warm (high 80's) and the guests were clearly making good use of the spa as the readings peaked at over 100 degrees.
On arrival the guest rang the management co emergency line to say the house was cold (it was 68 inside and 40 outside) - management co explained how to adjust the HVAC thermostat. House quickly warmed to 74 degrees - HVAC is brand new and works well. On being informed by the management company I adjusted the default settings remotely just in case and ensured they had plenty of flexibility. We know from years of experience that guests have widely different comfort levels ( the record is a guest who wanted the home at a constant 82!)
Guests departed a few days later - pool heat not paid for.
Management Co sent me a photo of a broken dining chair saying it was not broken before. They check all our rental homes after departure, for any damage, and before arrival to check the place is clean, the TVs all work, no lightbulbs out etc.
Sent guest a pool heat invoice reminder - did not pay so I deducted the pool heat cost from the guests security deposit and told them about the broken chair which maintenance repaired and we did not charge for.
Guest has now responded via the dashboard claiming :
a) The house was "cold and filthy".
b) The pool was not heated - it was "freezing"
c) The dining chair was broken when they got there - their "proof" is "two boxes of spare dining chairs in the garage and a tube of wood glue" - these are spare chairs in storage relating to a different home and of a different style and color (bright red) to the broken one.
So we have guests who are happy to lie through their teeth.
Last minute pool heat orders are very rare and we have always just switched it on and trusted the guest to pay knowing we have the security deposit fallback.
Perhaps my mistake was to switch the pool heater before payment - but as it takes several hours for 15,000 gallons of water to heat up we just put it on straight away. This by the way is done remotely - I can switch pool heat on and off via my iPhone / iPad. As it turned out there was a fault with the timer so the pool heater was running 24/7 so it was warm enough to use first thing the following morning.
1. Do I stick to my guns and risk a bad review - we have about 60 great reviews so even a single star will not damage the average much.
2. Do I follow the "guest is always right" mantra, refund the pool heat deduction and apologise for the house being "cold and filthy" (untrue of course) and also refund their cleaning fee (surely not).
As an aside :
We don't include pool heat in our rental rates because :
a) It would not be fair on those who do not use the pool - our rentals are in Florida so the main attraction for many is Disney etc.
b) Our rental rates would need to be higher and we would be less competitive
c) It is standard practice in this area to have pool heat as an option not as an inclusion.
And we rent grills in as this ensures the guests grill is clean - the guest has a choice of three types to choose from.