What do you do about paying house guests who want to leave?

I have had three sets of unhappy houseguests in twelve years who demanded refunds. In each case they had booked for two weeks. They were also all Australian who perhaps are not used to old buildings, though some of my most wonderful guests have also been from Australia. The first time I was so astonished I refunded them. The second pair suffered from allergies so I refunded them too but clarified my website and now turn away susceptible clients. Then two weeks ago I got another couple who suddenly said they wanted to leave and demanded their money back but this time I didn’t comply. They were rude and unpleasant and I highly recommend travel insurance in my contract to cover possible cancelations. They left anyway, thank goodness, but I found it extremely upsetting, though I know that when you open your home to the public you take these chances. Has anyone else had similar experiences and how do you handle it?

yep....agree. Call me hard hearted....but we put lots of photos on the website...describe everything to a T... bearing in mind the importance of Trades Description.....and I agree Sharon...if its not to your liking...basically...tough! Ive had several cr8ppy holidays....and just accepted it and moved on.... actually one time in Corfu I did complain to one of the big holiday companies...we had an ensuite studio room...set around a pool and bar that the owners ran. We werent keen on the football crowd that seemed to inhabit the bar...so we used to buy some beers and put them in the fridge...one day we came back and the lady of the house had taken away our fridge and replaced it with an old warm fridge..our crime...overfilling it with beer, what she meant was not buying our beer. So then I complained to the rep...she shouldnt have gone through our fridge.....we had filthy cotton mattresses with disgusting stains, the pillows had stains and marks all over them and smelled disgusting....flee riden cats were sitting on the beds every time we came in....the air con didnt work....the bar and pool noise went on till 2 every morning....truly the holiday from hell....and we did get a refund..sadly in the form of a voucher for another fun packed holiday with the same provider...I threw it away!

Haha, my husband used to 'hand back' the baby once things got tricky too Carol - he once 'offered' our gite to a colleague of his who turned up with his very charming wife - never got a penny out of them!! Several months later, the now ex-colleague phoned me up and gave me a cock and bull story and said that he would send a cheque in the post that day adding the words - 'I bet you think I'm a right b*@**!d to which I admitted I might have had similar thoughts - never got the cheque! I don't agree people should get a refund for 'not liking' the gite/B&B or deciding that they should've stayed somewhere else - it's like someone eating a meal in a restuarant then refusing to pay because it was over/under cooked!!!

Renting out our apartment is my husbands job....(I go back and work in the UK every so often...so decided this would be his baby)...but...when we get a painful one....he tends to throw them over to me. The chap who wrote out the deposit cheque.....dated the day before he was due to leave the apartment...post dated cheques do turn up every so often...we offer them one extra chance to get it right..if they still dont...we advise them we have cancelled their booking...sounds tough...but rather that than weeks of misery, emails, phone calls etc. Zero patience on my part rather than zero tolerance....life is too short...so we just delete them!

....it really sounds like there are some not only very inconsidered stupid rude people out there let alone creepy owners....at present we rent out our 2-bed apartment, and in our 'booking conditions' we ask for a 25% deposit on booking our place and the rest 75% + damage deposit latest by 8 weeks before their arrival. We suggest people should take out a travel insurance, just in case....they will loose their deposit if they cancel, but if we can rent out in the period they inititally have booked, we will give them the 75% + damage deposit back minus handling costs!

We have 4 ladies coming shortly, and the lady booking this on behalf of herself and the other 3 ladies has completely exhausted me. She took over 5 weeks(+ who knows how many emails - made a separate file for her - and it's big) to pay the deposit in Dec11, and I did think then - bet we will not see the final 75% + damage deposit by the time the money is due beginning June12! Was I wrong or was I wrong - oh not I was not, she has just FINALLY paid the rest (in 2 lots of course as she had forgotten about the damage deposit too, but we finally got the final 75% short ONLY short of a Euro or so?). I have never in my life heard soooo many excuses why the bank had not transferred the money, totally unhelpful they were too, but we know she never transferred the money until last Saturday FINALLY. She admittted having gone away for 10 days at the time the final 75% + was due, sorry she just did not get the time....wonder if she remembered to pay her rent/mortgage before she went away - and as she's a professional self employed woman, wonder how she would like her clients not to pay her on time - and does she not own a diary? Wonder if her 3 friends are aware the way we were finally paid -doubt it? Anyway - that was a side step, not all fun and certainly exhausting at times....any good suggestions out there, they will be most welcome.... :)

Hmmmn. The husband booked the cottage without consulting his wife. She was upset that he had booked two weeks in the country, that the bed was a double instead of a queen size, that there was no TV and no chaise longues in the garden. As they couldn't justifiably complain about the above, they said that the cottage was dirty and smelled of animals.

The real problem, I suspect, is that they spent a night in a chateau B&B on the way here which they really liked and to which they wanted to return. After they left they started sending threatening emails demanding a refund. My rental season is a short one and they booked the cottage last November. I don't feel compelled to refund them and was upset by their rude comments. I don't think I should give in to their bullying.

Bad news has turbo wings indeed! I grew up in the catering business and we had restaurants, gites, hotels, holiday apartments in the family, naturally I spent a lot of time working there and listening to comments. So, if it's any help I'd like to say that there are ways to avoid most problems: keep everything clean and fresh smelling, be flexible and friendly, refund if there are any problems. People who are unhappy talk to dozens of others and give you bad publicity and in this business, you are mainly dependent on word of mouth. There are people who make it a life quest to hunt down problems and stir up trouble, if you have any, or spot any before they sign on the dotted line, make sure you put them on a black list you share with a few others. Additionally, I think that a sort of guild, would be a very good thing for you, it would give you credibility and support, and you need a lot of that!

I ALMOST never take people who just drive up to the property.

They could be anyone...

I could tell you a few stories.
Always try to get to know something about the approaching clients.

There are con people around.

I wouldn't re-think it just yet Gillian. Bad news travels. What we could think about, which would help "newbies" like you and me, is to set up a discussion in Gite Owners group, http://www.survivefrance.com/group/giteowners - if it hasn't already been done. I'll try and check it out later but am busy this morning. I'm thinking along the lines of "do's and don'ts". You'll also find a discussion I started a couple of weeks back about how to take payment, how to spot dodgy email enquiries, and so on.

Wow- we are in the process of buying a property with the intention of opening a chambre d'hote. We kunow it will be hard work and there will be some difficult customers but judging from some of these comments perhaps we need to think again? Any advice on where to find the best information?

I know its different with Chambre d'hote to letting our apartment for holidays...but having stayed in a few chambre d'hotes....why not make sure there is a deposit, they pay in full before arriving (we insist on 4 weeks prior to arriving) the contract states there will be no refund and we strongly advice people to take out holiday insurance. We have however, left one Chambre d'hote early....it was a place in the Gers....they had done up the adjoining barn for lets. The front of the barn had the original beams...but had been filled in with glass, so the whole of the front was basically a giant window...with no curtains...so that anyone standing outside, could see what was going on in the studio room if there was a light on? youve guessed it...husband enjoyed standing outside and watching any action he could catch...we caught him standing outside one night...by the light of a moon he obviously hadnt noticed....! we left 2 nights early and even then didnt ask for our money back!

It gets harder by the moment.

Each year the number of Chambre d hote and Gites seem to increase often

owned by people who feel that they can make an easy living.

It is far from easy...clients are finding all sorts of ways to get a bargain and

the possability of difficult clients increses with the current financial market.

People arriving for a 4 day stay and declareing that they will be leaving a day earlier

to go to a christening. How did they manage to change their flights at such short notice?

Wedding clients like to have breakfast around 11 the morning after the event....

and suddenly decide to depart at seven ....ringing the bell to say goodbye.

Yes there are great clients out there and it is a pleasure to meet them...

just a shame about the others.

where do I begin...IN the middle as usual.

Our spot here is just close to 2 VERY chic fairytale wedding venues...One owned by a

famous ballerina. Our place seems to appeal to the youngish crowd who dash here for a few days

to join in hectic wedding celebrations. Last year we took reservations from Oct time with the

usual credit card deposits.

I refuse to let my rooms go for just a FRI/Sat...We are not a stop over...

WE re a destination. I see 4 nights as a feasable stay for me.

When you add up the pennies and look at the effort which you put in you say "Ah well

I came to France to work less ?"

But the hell which some of the "CLIENTS" put you through!!!!

Four sets of media lads kept me busy busy with e mails for months....PAID deposits.

Then 3 months before the wedding they all wanted their money back.

One of them was positively cruel and agressive on line....just in conversation between himself

and his fellow troublemakers...UNAWARE that the conversation had reached me too.

The wedding people are demanding and expectant...THE SAGA continued as the weddings went on and

I begin to wonder ....Can it get harder?

I dont see how anyone could complain about a document that has names on it but no comments.....would be difficult to prove anything one way or the other..... In pubs in the UK...they all share a list of names of people who it is suggest, should not be served. They havent neccessarily broken the law...but cause trouble. The police either head up the scheme or are aware of it. Two of my sons had problems with 4 oiks in Newbury, when the police turned up, it turned out these idiots were on the do not serve list....

Love it David.

Other medians? I think my first reply would be "I will entertain your comments once you understand the meaning of all the words you write instead of opening your dictionary near to the word you think you mean". And write to who you like - in the meantime, I am going to take it further, starting with an e-mail to my Mum..."

Thanks everyone. I find your comments reassuring, especially as tonight I received another long angry email ending with "I will leave it to you to respond and offer some recompense if not I shall take it further starting with the French Tourist Authority in Australia, France and Rignac. Also other medians." What a twit.

In any case if what you had written about a "bad" guest was true, but he decided to sue anyway for "hurt feelings", that suit would not receive a sympathetic hearing.

Defamation whether written or spoken is regarded equally in law, so word of mouth is no different to a website in that respect (except usually harder to prove!). However it is only defamation if what you are saying or writing is untrue. I think a "guild" approach may not work since the individuals would not have a right to reply, which could be useful ,legally.

David, agreed. Marie-Claire has a point though. What is to stop a group of individuals who all happen to be in the hospitality business sharing, ie a list shared through Google Documents?