32 Replies Latest reply: Jun 14, 2018 8:38 AM by georgygirl1955 RSS

    guests complain about condiments in fridge

    New Member

      We recently had a guest check in and send us multiple photos of the condiments in the fridge and a few items in the freezer as a complaint about housekeeping quality. I was really taken aback as every VRBO house/cabin rental we have experienced as guests has had some items in the kitchen along those lines. We use our cabin ourselves as a vacation rental and keep certain items stocked. Why would we want to buy/bring mustard etc everytime we arrive? We have stated guests are free to help themselves. We did respond via email by explaining the above.

       

      Has anyone else run into this issue? What do you have in your cabin rental?

        • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
          twomoreyears Senior Contributor

          We have lots of leftover condiments in the refrigerator.  Never had a complaint (so far)

           

          In addition to what you said already, I would have said "We're happy to have the housekeeper show up and remove the items. What's a good time for you?"

           

          This is a no-win situation. People used to hotels will be taken aback by ketchup in the refrigerator.  The irony of it is that they probably have NO problem using the ketchup bottle on the table at the local restaurant.....

          People used to vacation rentals will appreciate the ketchup and mustard in the refrigerator, and the salt and pepper and oil, etc.

          • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
            georgygirl1955 Senior Contributor

            we do remove everything and I recommend that but....on the other hand.....

            leaving some items in fridge and freezer is Not a good reason to send multiple texts and complain about housekeeping. ( stuff could be pushed to the back or simply thrown away)

            So I think there is a bigger or deeper issue going on, and I would probe further.....

            either something else is triggering this overreaction, or guest is preparing for negotiations.

            Just my thoughts

            • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
              3seasbeach Contributor

              We have our housekeeping staff remove all foodstuffs at each turnover.  Personally, when I travel I prefer to see a "clean slate".  I do not know how old the products are, and do not want to take the time to read the dates!  I absolutely will not use what someone else left.  Everyone is different though.

              • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                scowol Active Contributor

                I purposefully leave condiments out and other staples.  I notify my guests in advance and also in the rental guide that is left at the house so that they know it was intentional:

                 

                Email I send on check-in date:

                 

                We provide a starter supply of dish soap, hand soap, dishwasher detergent, paper towels, aluminum foil, bath tissue, and laundry detergent.  As a courtesy, our housekeeper will also leave any staples that were thoughtfully left by the prior guests for future guests.  These may include a variety of spices, refrigerated condiments, flour/sugar, etc.  Before you head the supermarket, I would suggest that you check out what's available at the house first.  At the house, you'll find a map of the nearest supermarkets (Safeway and Albertsons).

                 

                Information in the house rental guide:

                 

                Many guests thoughtfully leave leftover condiments and cooking staples for the convenience of future guests.  You may discover some items.  You are welcome to use these as desired, or discard them at your discretion.

                 

                I've never had a single complaint in 10 years of doing this, and most appreciate the thoughtfulness.

                 

                It's disappointing that your thoughtfulness of leaving these items for guests is a complaint.  I assume that the rest of your entire house/property is clean, so any person with common sense would know that these were left out with intention.  And if they believed it was an oversight, for goodness sake, they can take 5 seconds to remove them from the refrigerator and throw them in the garbage.  These guests sound like what I call "complainypants."   The type that takes more time to complain than it does to simply solve the problem themselves.

                 

                IMO, keep doing what you do.  Don't let one complainypants ruin a thoughtful gesture for the other 99 guests who likely appreciated your hospitality. 

                  • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                    New Member

                    Thanks for the replies (everybody)! Keep them coming..I want to get as many replies and opinions as possible. for those who do use their rental themselves regularly, what do you do with fridge and pantry items? It's just not practical for us to bring that with us everytime we use the place. Maybe buy a separate fridge for the basement?

                     

                    Scowol, thanks for the helpful supply notification wording! I was planning on doing this for all future guests.

                    It hadn't occurred to me to do it before because every place we've stayed at had stuff in the fridge and cupboard. We have been renting for 2 years and have never had a complaint about anything! These people also said that they didn't like the smell of the place and went to the store and bought Lysol and sprayed everything down (I was super not happy about that). We've never had a complaint about odor either, so I think like you said they must be "complainy pants".

                    I have been just really taking this to heart because there has been weekly housekeeping and after every guest of course. we've gone out of our way to try to make things as nice as possible.

                  • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                    sage Senior Contributor

                    I provide basic condiments, seasonings, etc. and do not replace them for each guest. That my kitchen is well stocked is something my guests frequent comment on approvingly. But my guests are all VR veterans, not the Holiday Inn crowd targeted by HA marketing.

                    • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                      feibus CommunityAmbassador

                      Salt.  Pepper.  That's for everyone.  In the locked closet is sugar, tin foil, cooking spray, all the things we need that won't spoil.

                       

                      I can see leaving things behind that won't spoil quickly.  Like pancake syrup, other dry goods.  Things that might spoil should be tossed between guests.  And be aware that you might be legally liable for food poisoning from stuff left over.

                       

                      To add to the document: "If you smell something, throw out something." 

                        • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                          sage Senior Contributor

                          Things that might spoil should be tossed between guests.

                          Good point. And we do watch the 'best by" dates and replace anything approaching expiration. Even if I would continue to use something at home past the best by date, for what guests pay me I think it would be tacky to save a few dollars rather than provide fresh ketchup.

                        • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                          sfbritt New Member

                          We supply salt, pepper, a ton of herbs and spices, sugar, coffee beans, flour, olive & canola oil, and a few types of vinegar. We also stock ketchup, mustard and mayo in squeeze bottles. If guests leave other non-perishables that can be used by future visitors, we'll leave them in the cabinet. No one has complained and we get many thanks and positive comments in reviews for our well-stocked kitchen.

                          • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                            green_mango Active Contributor

                            This is a hot topic with owners divided - personally, when I have a longer term guest I give them a clean slate and have the fridge and freezer totally empty.  For my weekly/weekend guests I ask my cleaner to consolidate any extra condiments to a single door shelf in the fridge so that items are available, but easy to keep separate if a guest doesn't want them.  Sometimes guests are grossed out by open containers, and sometimes they appreciate not having to buy everything new - you just never know.  

                             

                            As a guest one of the airbnb's where I've stayed has food all over the fridge - it grossed me out.  Butter, eggs, applesauce, pickles, all sorts...  yuck.   Overall though I loved the home and when I went back about 9 months later I recognized some of the same items - double gross!  So, my vote is that if an owner does keep fridge items for guests, I'd advise limiting it to a small portion of the fridge, just a few items, and nothing past a best by date. 

                            • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                              ambidextrous Active Contributor

                              We discard anything that could have been mishandled (like mayo left out for hours, then returned to the fridge) for safety reasons. That generally means that the fridge is totally empty. On the rare occasion that I have been staying in the house and have something brand new and sealed that I know is safe, I send a note to the guest and explain that I just could not throw out the pint of Chunky Monkey and hope they'll enjoy it. But I explain that I bought it.

                               

                              We do have a ton of other non-perishables so folks don't have to buy any spices, flour, oils, vinegar and the like.

                              • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

                                The refrigerator is cleaned out for every rental.  My guests get a list of the individually packaged items we do provide and a recommendation for local grocery shopping. 

                                 

                                I have had guests leave things behind as a courtesy to other guests, but my housekeeper has told me that she will generally toss anything that is still in the cupboard after 2 or 3 bookings. If it is sealed or a canned good, she takes it to the local food pantry where she volunteers.

                                 

                                I personally would not use anything I found in a refrigerator, and I am suspicious of foods other than canned goods left on shelves.

                                • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                  ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                  You will get lots of varying answers and reasons why owners do, and do not, leave food items for their guests. 

                                   

                                  We do not.  When I open a refrigerator at a timeshare or hotel, I don't want to see a half used bottle of ANYTHING.  I want the refrigerator to be sparkling clean and ready for ME.   Basically, we leave our condo the way we would want it to be when we check in.  

                                   

                                  I know someone might say "well, don't you use that ketchup bottle at the restaurant?"  Well yea, and it's probably covered with germs.  But I feel confident no one has stuck their spoon in it and ate straight from it.  If you come to MY house I will tell you, "don't eat from THAT peanut butter jar, here, let me open a FRESH one for you."  Because I have a child that thinks the jar is HERS to eat out of.   I have no idea if the previous guests ate from the container, or stuck their spoon into the container and ate from that. 

                                  • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                    mvphawaiicondo Contributor

                                    I leave the condiments in the fridge.  I run a vacation condo in Hawaii.   Although I have a housekeeper, when I can, I like to do all of my own cleaning.  I clean out the fridge and make it look really neat with the stuff left behind.   I kind of feel that condiments are appreciated.   I leave the condiments and no one has ever complained.  Like Scowol above, I include a statement in my welcome email that goes like this:

                                     

                                    We leave food items that are packaged and sealed.  You might want to check out what’s at the condo before you go grocery shopping.  There are condiments, spices, sugars, coffee and tea. We keep you stocked with a mini fridge filled with water.   Please let us know if it’s ok to leaved sealed alcohol in the condo.  Sometimes previous guests leave beer or wine and we will leave it for you if it’s ok. 


                                    So there you have it, full disclosure.  Not only do I leave open condiments but I also leave sealed food like yogurt, string cheese, soda etc.  My refrigerator is NEVER empty but it is always neat and clean.  Every once in awhile I will find that the guests have purchased brand new condiments and the old ones are still there.  So I throw out the old and keep the newest.  I always check the dates and I never leave anything that is expired.  Also, something I learned from my housekeeper is to always ask if it's ok to leave alcohol.  Usually, just about everyone leaves a can of beer or two and sometimes sealed bottles of wine.  I leave it for the next guest but I always ask first.  I have had only one person reply that they prefer no alcohol be left in the condo.  Also I have check out instructions that say the following:

                                     

                                    Please clean out refrigerator of any food items that the next guest would not want to eat.  Anything that is sealed, unused and has a current expiration date may stay in the refrigerator.


                                    So if they leave stuff, that tells me that they don't mind stuff left behind for them.  Everyone has been respectful and has only left sealed items and open condiments.  When stuff gets really low I even buy a new condiment and leave it sealed.  I personally would be annoyed to have to buy mustard, ketchup or mayo for the four sandwiches that I'm making for my one week vacation to know that it's hardly used and will be thrown away once I leave.  It seems so wasteful.  But again, I am a pretty much hands on manager/owner.  If I had to rely on a housekeeping staff or agency full time, I'd probably not want to leave stuff that I have no control over.  I would not expect an agency to be taking the time to check dates and check bottles for cleanliness.   My housekeeper is my friend and knows how I like things done so it all works out.


                                    I think the bottom line is full disclosure that it will be there so then they are not surprised and can't say you did not tell them.

                                     

                                     

                                    • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                      margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                      I leave spices, cooking spray, etc. but nothing is left in the fridge. My housekeeper takes anything worth keeping that is left in the fridge or freezer.

                                      • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                        ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                        It might also depend on your location and ease of shopping/accessibility.  If your VR is somewhere where everyone has to fly to, and grocery shopping isn't a simple task, that's a good reason to leave food for your guests.

                                         

                                        If you are in an area where most drive to you (and may bring some of their own food), and the grocery shopping is within a bicycle's ride away, then you might not feel so compelled to leave things.    In an area such as ours, many of the grocers carry "travel size" bottles of condiments and display them in bins near the deli.  And that stuff goes FAST.

                                          • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                            twomoreyears Senior Contributor

                                            ohst8er wrote:

                                             

                                            It might also depend on your location and ease of shopping/accessibility.  If your VR is somewhere where everyone has to fly to, and grocery shopping isn't a simple task, that's a good reason to leave food for your guests.

                                            This is an excellent point. We're in a rural area in a fly-to location.  the nearest store is a 15-minute drive away, and many of our guests hire a taxi service instead of renting a vehicle and navigating the "wrong" (British) side of the road.  And if they arrive on a Sunday, the grocery stores are closed.   We leave a welcome basket of food and beverage for them - snacks when they arrive, a light dinner, and a full breakfast the next day. They also frequently hire our housekeeper/cook to cook at least a few meals for them.  Since she meets them when they arrive, they have the opportunity to ask her to clean out the refrigerator if they don't want anything left in it. It feels more like they are walking into our home, so having condiments in the refrigerator and some staples in the pantry is in line with the rest of the experience.

                                          • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                            planthealth Active Contributor

                                            I put in my welcome letter that I email to them after booking that they can leave non perishable items in kitchen and therefore if they see it and dont use it please leave for the next guest.

                                            • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                              hrwi Contributor

                                              I too leave condiments, usually a bit of salad dressing. But it's on our cleaners list to wipe them with a damp cloth, including the crusty mustard spout. I don't know why, that part grosses me out a little!

                                              • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                                jl11 Senior Contributor

                                                I leave the fridge completely empty unless it's a repeat guest and I know what they like  ... and in those cases I'll provide things like unopened  OJ, cream for coffee, butter, jam and a fresh baguette or croissants on the counter. Most of our guests arrive on overnight flights and check in between 10am and noon. A light breakfast gives them a chance to relax after their long trip.

                                                 

                                                In the cupboard there is only salt and pepper, oil and vinegar, coffee and tea and a few spices. That's it.

                                                 

                                                Our housekeeper is instructed to remove all opened packages of cereal, rice, pasta, snacks, condiments, etc ... Even if we know those products have only been in the fridge/cupboard for a week, a guest wouldn't know if they've been there a few days or many months.

                                                 

                                                When I rent a VR, I won't touch any leftover condiments or products if they've already been opened. Who knows how long they've been there?

                                                • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                                  bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                                                  We have had guests that have just tossed everything in the refrig, so don’t know what is the big deal. If they really need the space then they should just toss the stuff.  We only use the doors for condiments, BBQ sauce, etc.  Most folks appreciate the left condiments from previous guests.  But we toss all opened packages of food, except condiments. 

                                                   

                                                  I would take exception to removing things from the freezer.  We leave gallon jugs of frozen water since we lose power frequently when the power company cuts the power while fighting wildfires.  Those jugs can be used to keep the refrig cold until power is restored.  We also leave those frozen packs for use in coolers. 

                                                   

                                                  To each their own...

                                                  • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                                    u0999 Premier Contributor

                                                    There should not be any condiments in the frige. frige should be pristine, clean and empty save for ice in the icemaker.

                                                    • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                                      grant570 Active Contributor

                                                      I find this hilarious....   To me it boils down to do you use the cabin/cottage yourself.   Since I use mine myself (my guests are made aware this is my personal cottage I only rent when I can't use) I leave items in there, and I find many guest leave items in the fridge as well.   Most open items I will throw out, but condiments I leave for the season.  I guess I view my guests as mature adults and don't worry about it.   If I didn't use the cottage myself, I'd throw it out everytime, because then its more like a hotel.

                                                        • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                                          u0999 Premier Contributor

                                                          all my stuff (non perishable) is locked in owner storage for me to use when I am there (as well as my favorite cast iron skillet that I do not want to be ruined by dishwashing). i do leave non perishables (salt, spices, packets of sugar, coffe filters  etc) in the kitchen cabinets but nothing in the fridge. No perishables. 

                                                        • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                                          bhorsnround Contributor

                                                          Since 2015 I leave condiments; and items sometimes other guest had purchased for those travelling and not wanting to purchase it.  I do make sure the dates are good each time and discard any that looks bad

                                                           

                                                          All my guest love having this for them

                                                          • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                                            twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                                            since my property is also our second home, we have many things in the cupboards, and yes condiments, coffee Creamer, sugar, tea, etc. We let folks know that they can help themselves or pass. We have a pay it forward policy but only request everything left other than condiments be in original sealed containers.

                                                             

                                                            My guests love it. One left me a surprise and one recently left fresh strawberries for my cleaning lady....she loved it! They called to make sure it was okay to leave her a surprise. I have been blessed with most of my guests.

                                                             

                                                            Sounds like you just had unhappy people.

                                                            • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                                              lindata Active Contributor

                                                              Interesting thread.  I have a variety of spices, oil, salt, pepper, flour, sugar, coffee, etc, that sort of thing in a spice cabinet.  Guests add to it or take from it.  I don't really monitor it except to make sure nothing in there is gross.  

                                                               

                                                              If guests leave condiments in the fridge such as ketchup and mustard, I have left them there for the next guests to enjoy, but I'm thinking from some of the comments in this thread that I should not.  I can totally see the "grossness" factor now that I honestly didn't think of before.  Having a used squeeze bottle of ketchup is not gross to me, but now I can see that it would be to others.  I would never keep anything that would ordinarily be tampered with such as a used jar of peanut butter (inserts spoon repeatedly - yes, gross).  I would not keep anything like an unopened bottle of milk or freezies or anything like that, but I had been keeping condiments.  So in the future I will be tossing all items from the fridge even if it is just squeeze bottles of mustard and ketchup.

                                                              • Re: guests complain about condiments in fridge
                                                                ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                                                We are staying at our VR this week. When we arrived we were a tad early and our housekeeping staff were still cleaning. I asked the housekeeping manager about the food in the cabinet and she said we always remove everything. “You never know if someone might have attempted to poison something. It’s not worth the risk .”  This from a housekeeping company. That’s how they operate. I don’t have a problem with that.