31 Replies Latest reply: Oct 9, 2019 4:52 PM by hickmanhideaway RSS

    How much to compensate a guest?

    salexand New Member

      We have a guest that notified us that the hot water heater wasn't working on the second day of their stay (late Wednesday afternoon).  I had our caretaker go over and try to light the pilot but it didn't work.  We called our home warranty company and had someone scheduled for the next day (Friday).  They showed up, looked at it and left.  I called the plumbing company to find out what he discovered, she said we needed a new hot water tank.  I explained we needed this done quickly because our guests had been without hot water for 3 nights and I didn't want to make it 4.  I called the home warranty as well.  I kept the guests up to date.  I offered to put them up in a hotel on Friday when I realized this was not going to get repaired on Friday.   They were not happy.  I can understand that.  They didn't want to go to a hotel just wanted it fixed now and compensation on their rent . There was talk of negative reviews but wanting to return next year if it was fixed to their liking.  It seemed like they were not happy we were trying to get this fixed through the home warranty.  We live in Canada so everything over the phone.  We did find a company to take the credit card over the phone and install a new one at a steep price.  Not through the home warranty.  My husband says $200 is enough compensation, what do you think?  We have 119 5 star reviews.  We are seriously thinking of selling our home but still want to be fair.

        • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
          green_mango Active Contributor

          I tend to err on the side of refunds when there is a legitimate issue - and no hot water for several days is a legit issue - no showers - ack!  I'd probably refund 50% and next time skip the home warranty company because they're in no rush to fix things.  As far as $200 back, I think it all depends on the total cost of the rental.

          • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
            casitacynthiasantafe Contributor

            I would refund 100% for every day that they were without hot water. I feel your pain: I have had various appliances fail when I have had guests in my place, and it is the worst feeling when you are trying as hard as you can to fix the problem, but you are not a hotel and you don't have another room that you can just move the guest into.

             

            My attitude is: it is their vacation, and I don't want to be their nightmare vacation story. I'd rather be their story about: wow, xyz happened, and the owner gave me the place for free or did this great thing for me. I had renters who were arriving for two months, and right after they shopped and filled the refrigerator, it failed. I got a repairman in right away, and he "fixed" it. But it failed again. They had to go out and buy coolers and ice and put all their food in them and were without a refrigerator for several days until I could get a new one in. I sent them a $500 gift certificate to their favorite restaurant in town. This was in 2015. They have come back every summer since, for 4-8 weeks, and they come for occasional Christmas and winter trips too. They still talk about that gift certificate. It was totally worth it.

              • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                casitacynthiasantafe Contributor

                PS--I have an older hot water heater and know it is going to go one of these days. I've talked about it with my great plumber. He doesn't recommend pro-actively replacing it. He says it should have another 3 years or so to go. But he knows that I'm in a different situation from a homeowner who can just roll with the inconvenience, and has told me that if the heater fails, he will bring in a 5-gallon portable hot water heater that he can hook up until he gets the new heater in, so that renters can at least take quick showers.

                  • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                    hmmmm Senior Contributor

                    Oh goodness no, replace it now....

                      • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                        casitacynthiasantafe Contributor

                        I am certainly willing to do that for the peace of mind, but my plumber recommends waiting because there are very few options available for the space and the use that I need (a small unit that runs both radiant floor heating and domestic hot water). There is a relatively new unit out that he likes, but he says he'd rather have it out for a few more years before installing it. He says that there's no guarantee that any hot water heater of any age will not fail, that the one I have should be good for several more years, and the new one he'd put it in relatively untested. Does that make sense? This is, uh....not my area of expertise.

                      • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                        u0999 Premier Contributor

                        he may be a great plumber, but he is not a VR owner is he? he is giving you advice as if it was your personal house. In that case if heater quits, you do not  have to refund anyone and you won't give yourself a bad review.. you just live a a few days without the hot water.. However in a VR situation it is CHEAPER and less nerve racking in the long run to be pro active. I have replaced water heaters in all of my 3 cabins pro actively with Marathons, not waiting for them to leak. It will cost a LOT more plus a potential of bad review if tank fails when the guests are staying.

                          • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                            casitacynthiasantafe Contributor

                            I agree--I want to be pro-active, but how do you know when the time is right to replace an appliance? Washer/dryer; refrigerator; dishwasher; hot water heater? Do you have a regular time table for replacing these or do you do it based on the condition of the appliance? I had a gorgeous-looking 8 yo Subzero refrigerator fail all of a sudden. I did not see this one coming at all. Should I have?

                              • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                feibus Senior Contributor

                                I base it on how often I have to call the guy out to repair it.  It's minimum $125 per visit, so if that happens more than once a year, I'm better off just buying a new one.

                                • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                  koko Active Contributor

                                  Water heaters need to be flushed on a regular basis, when you notice rust or deposits increasing, you plumber can tell when it's time.

                                  Refrigerators need to be maintained as well, I have an almost 20 year old Maytag in the rental which looks brand new and runs - the only thing it needed is a new ice maker.

                                  If you stay in your rental every so often you can hear what your appliances are doing, how quickly water heats up, smells, sound and rattles.

                                  They are big clues.

                                  I always have a second coffee maker on hand, a second toaster, blow dryer, etc. The small stuff which is easily displaced, taken, broken or just gives out.

                                  Find out where you can get a water heater of your type within one day, there are plumbing warehouses and Home Depot/Lowes/Building Market have these in stock.

                                  Be prepared as best as you can, I'm sure something will brake you could not prepare for, because Murphy said..........................

                                  • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                    u0999 Premier Contributor

                                    After I had a rather expensive Bosch fridge needing 3 repairs and locking up after each power outage or brownout and needing to send someone to reset, I just said to he!! with it an replaced after 5-6 years with simpler and more budget friendly Whirlpool. Over the range microwaves do not last more than 2 years or so in a rental - I replaced 3 this year in my 2 rentals (one has two kitchens, so that made 3).  just replaced one because it already started to develop the crack in the door from renters yanking it (even though I epoxied it) - preemptively because I knew it won't hold up in a long run. I mostly do preemptive on things like water heaters, pressure tanks (if you are on the well) etc. I am very down on Maytag brand - they are cr@ap now. I replaced higher end all stainless Maytag dishwasher was not even 5 year old, had 3 repairs and control panel quit, was not worth fixing. 4 year old Maytag Centennial washer - 3 repairs at 4 years old (this one I got extended warranty for). Less than a year old GE stack washer/dryer - repair for pushed in control buttons. As koko says, you need to see how appliances are acting and if they show any sign of "acting up" they need to be replaced or repaired. even before they actually break.

                            • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                              db.meyer Senior Contributor

                              It's a little "late" now for my advice, but I would have immediately found someone to replace the water heater no matter the "cost".  The "cost" of your poor guests having no hot water for 3+ days (let alone 1 day) + the cost of a negative review certainly is more than the cost to replace the water heater asap.  At this point, if you have not already done so, immediately get the da$$ hot water heater replaced and perhaps "ask" your guests what they deem to be "adequate" compensation for their inconvenience? Just because you are considering "selling" doesn't absolve you of the responsibility of providing the basic necessities/utilities of a vacation rental home.  If your guests were/are smart, they would contact HA/Vrbo to request a refund in full for their inconvenience/not as advertised accommodation.

                              • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                db.meyer Senior Contributor

                                And for any other owners complaining or concerned about the new HA "check-in payments" that allows guests to complain within 24 hours of check in, this is an example of what HA might encounter on any given day with a certain number of owners. Although this situation appears to have occurred after the 24 hour check-in (?) period, how often do these situations occur and at what "cost" to HA to relocate guests, etc. under their "guarantee"? I never thought I would be supporting HA in this, but this post has me contemplating how often owners might allow guests to either check in or to endure the inconvenience of even the basic necessities provided by a vacation rental home?

                                  • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                    salexand New Member

                                    It was within the 24 hours that they discovered there was no hot water.  It is in Phoenix so all the water is warm, which is why it took them so long to tell me. My cleaning lady was there the day before and didn't notice it.

                                     

                                    I live in Canada and it is obvious based on these comments, that you all don't agree with Home Warranty programs.  In the past we have never had a problem with them fixing things right away, even when our air conditioner broke down.  I will refund them 4 nights of rent.  I wanted to show my husband what everyone else would do.  Thank you all for your recommendations.

                                  • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                    wildiris Active Contributor

                                    Home warranty services are notoriously slow.  I don't blame your guests for being upset that you were trying to get the hot water heater repaired or replaced through the home warranty service.  I would refund 100% for every day they were without hot water.

                                    • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                      feibus Senior Contributor

                                      Not sure what selling your home will matter in this situation.  We have a clause in our RA that states if the home is uninhabitable, we give a full refund.  No hot water for more than one night equals "uninhabitable" for any vacation I've ever paid for, and that's how I'd handle it.  In fact, the minute I figured out that the water heater wasn't going to be fixed in one night, I would have offered to refund every night from that point forward if they would go to a hotel or another VR in the area and continue their vacation fun that way.

                                       

                                      If it was your vacation, what would you have wanted the owner to have done?

                                      • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                        hmmmm Senior Contributor

                                        I personally would have compensated, for each night they were with out hot water.  Then learn not to use a home warranty.

                                        • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                          vrdoctor Senior Contributor

                                          We used to give cash refunds but found that it does not guarantee a repeat booking.  First fix the issue as quickly as you can.  At the end of the stay apologize and ask the guest what would make them happy.  Consider giving free for a future stay instead of cash back or combine a partial cash refund with some credit towards future travel.

                                           

                                          Also, put yourself in the guest's shoes and figure out what you would want for the inconvenience.  I disagree with others saying to refund 100% as they still stayed and had access to the property.

                                            • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                              wildiris Active Contributor

                                              I consider no hot water for several days to be a big problem.  For me as a guest, offering me a discount on a future stay instead of compensating me for the inconvenience experienced in the current stay would really tick me off.  Why would I want to come back?  It would guarantee that I'd leave a very negative review of the property.

                                                • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                                  green_mango Active Contributor

                                                  Exactly - I give cash refunds on the rare occasion something like this happens.  Why?  I'm trying to make things right for *this* stay - I'm not trying to guarantee a repeat booking.  As aa guest my needs change and I may not book the same place twice, even if I loved it - so if I had problems and was given a credit I'd think that was pretty crummy.  Treat me well enough and handle things well the first time around and if I'm back in the area and want to stay a second time, then I will - but it wouldn't be because I had a credit.

                                                   

                                                  PS - a vacation rental managed by Vacasa was the one & only time I got a credit towards a future booking because of problems with  rental that weren't remedied during our stay.  We never ended up using the credit - so for us it was a moot point and I would have much preferred a smaller amount of cash back.

                                                  • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                                    u0999 Premier Contributor

                                                    PM companies in my market tend to do that (credit for future stay) knowing full well that in 90% of cases they will not have to honor it - ticked off guests is not likely to rebook in the future, so it is largely a symbolic gesture. You should see the scathing comments in facebook groups about this practice.

                                                      • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                                        vrdoctor Senior Contributor

                                                        We have had many guests take us up on the future discount but yes the majority do not.  We have found that by giving a generous future discount we still avoid bad reviews without giving cash refunds.  We used to give cash refunds and found that we didn't see a much different result when we switched to giving credit for future stays.

                                                        u0999 wrote:

                                                         

                                                        PM companies in my market tend to do that (credit for future stay) knowing full well that in 90% of cases they will not have to honor it - ticked off guests is not likely to rebook in the future, so it is largely a symbolic gesture. You should see the scathing comments in facebook groups about this practice.

                                                    • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                                      u0999 Premier Contributor

                                                      repeat booking? forget repeat booking, just try not to get a one star review...I would only refund for days that they were inconvenienced.

                                                    • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                                      tnmountainmama Contributor

                                                      I agree with everyone else...always give a refund for an inconvenience this big.  We recently had a major problem (septic tank backing up in toilets and showers and on floors), and refunded the guests money immediately.  They were amazing and still left us a 5 star review and are wanting to come back.

                                                        • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                                          martyp Contributor

                                                          Backed up septic tank goes way beyond a broken water heater or broken AC.

                                                           

                                                          I had a guest during a summer week in Georgia when my AC failed.  The AC company could not get a unit replaced before our guests checked out.

                                                           

                                                          I gave our guests the option of determining the refund.  I told them that I would refund 100% of their fee and they could find another location, or they could stay without AC for their duration and stay for free, or pay whatever percentage they felt like paying. They chose to pay 50%.

                                                           

                                                          They run a river rafting business and they invited us to go rafting free of charge ... plus they gave us a 5-star review.

                                                        • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                                          koko Active Contributor

                                                          The key here is to realize that things like that are bound to happen - so have back ups in place like a small waterheater somewhere under a sink which could salvage some of the goodwill.

                                                          Even with that you have to realize that guests are not homeowners, although they might very well be and know you cannot jump through hoops to get a plumber in 2 hours.

                                                          As a guest they demand that everything  is perfect - rightfully so.

                                                          If it isn't, make them whole with a refund.

                                                          3 days no hot water - refunded

                                                          1 bouquet flowers delivered with a note saying: we are truly sorry for the inconvenience.

                                                          1 phone call saying same and advising that their CC has been credited with x-nights.

                                                          That will get you a good review and maybe return.

                                                          That is all you can ask for - oh aside from a better Home Warranty company - or better yet, none.

                                                          • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                                            auntytammy Contributor

                                                            While my own Rental Agreement states that I will not refund for mechanical failures (as they often are caused by Guests), the reality is that I often do send out checks for legitimate inconveniences caused by such failures. The failure of a water heater is more than just a few cold showers, it could present a health issue: no clean dishes, no clean laundry, etc. So, I, too, would refund in full for the days there was not a working water heater. I also strongly suggest you start to build a Team of household vendors: plumbers, electricians, appliance repairmen, etc. that will be loyal and responsive to you and your property. This is especially important for an absentee owner. Ditch the Home Warranty Company and start running your business.

                                                              • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                                                psphoto Active Contributor

                                                                auntytammy wrote:

                                                                 

                                                                While my own Rental Agreement states that I will not refund for mechanical failures (as they often are caused by Guests), the reality is that I often do send out checks for legitimate inconveniences caused by such failures. The failure of a water heater is more than just a few cold showers, it could present a health issue: no clean dishes, no clean laundry, etc. So, I, too, would refund in full for the days there was not a working water heater. I also strongly suggest you start to build a Team of household vendors: plumbers, electricians, appliance repairmen, etc. that will be loyal and responsive to you and your property. This is especially important for an absentee owner. Ditch the Home Warranty Company and start running your business.

                                                                Very good advice! You don't want to be left scrambling to find a reliable service provider at the last minute....get the list together in advance!

                                                              • Re: How much to compensate a guest?
                                                                hickmanhideaway Contributor

                                                                We had pipes freeze over Thanksgiving in the Flagstaff Area. Guests were making their family dinner. Had a local handyman go out on Thanksgiving, paid him double his rate and he got it flowing again after 6 hours of pouring hot water on the pipes. We refunded them for 2 days of the 4 days they were there, even tho they were only without water for 1 day. They were pleased and have come back. By the way, it was a city water problem, before our pipes.