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

Hi Sheila, I would support such a website. Indeed I think a lot of people would even pay to have access to it. After all, you can all go on infogreffe and see that I did not learn my trade on the P&O boat coming over! However, I strongly suspect there is some Human Rights Act thing that says "your name cannot be published inspite of the fact you are a complete @#$%^&*!" So word of mouth it is I am afraid. It would be an interesting test case for defamation - they would argue their feelings are hurt by being published, the gite owner would argue that since they behaved in such a way, they opened themselves to the comments. Hmm, one of those things you ponder in the shower which will never happen of course...

I don't think that you can publish names, but if you organise a group, or a sort of club of like-minded business owners, you can have a file share system and put up the names of people who have wronged or maligned you in terms of business. If only members of the "guild" have access to the information, I don't see how it could be illegal. Or rather, I don't think you'd get into trouble....

But that's the point David. Names of "bad" guests can only be spread by word of mouth. I think it would be defamation if their individual names were published on any website! What a pity we can't have such a list.

Sorry to hear all these trials and tribulations of people - I hope that visitors are in the majority nice and, well, basically holidaymakers. We spent plenty of time in gites when househunting in the area and there are some I would wear a Hazmat suit to enter again and others I would go and stay there again tomorrow, indeed, having had visiting relatives stay there when we did not have enough space.

I agree with the other posters that say stand your ground. As long as you have not misrepresented yourself, you have the high ground. Fine - see you in court is probably the best response. You have right of reply on Trip Advisor so use that if people write nasty things.

As a small business owner (nothing to do with gite rental), I get customers complain about nonsense and bite my tongue and within reason go back and see them again if there is an element of doubt. It's probably illegal under some Human Rights Act thing but myself and other local businesses operate an informal word-of-mouth warning system where there non-payers or difficult customers for other reasons and I have turned away business on the strength of that. I appreciate the gite market is somewhat larger but hopefully these people get reputations and your fellow gite owners would warn you. Funny how the same old names seem to go round...

Hi Catherine, I have been in the rental business for near 20years, I have rented old farmhouse to Chateaux. I have a contact that a future clients has to sign and abide by the Booking Conditions. Unless there is something that is drastically wrong on your part, if the client decides they want to leave, then they leave on their own accord without a refund. I sincerely hope that you get a secuirty/breakage deposit from each of your clients before they arrive. If you want me to send you a copy of my booking form/conditons, please send me a private e-mail. Take care

TripAdvisor emailed me recently asking how they could be of help to my business. I said the best thing they could do would be to remove our listing! For a much more balanced view of our place, BOOKING.COM is the place to look. I know I'm not alone in that view.

IMHO - there's not one single nationality that can be singled out as "the rudest", but I've found that there is an element of French people who react badly to our being from England and not being 100% fluent in French.

I have a lot of sympathy with you Catherine, in a past life I worked in a service industry and found that by far the rudest customers were Australian, rarely saying please or thank you, I have several Australian Cousins by the way! However, in 2006, I went to Cornwall for six weeks to look after and run a friends B&B (they were visiting Australia), and one evening an Australian Couple turned up who had arrived in the UK that day and driven down to Cornwall from Central London, they had done what most Aussies do and assumed that a journey of 250 miles would take less than three hours!! Anyway, I had a room available, but then they hadn't eaten and it was just a B&B, but I was so impressed that they had come all that way that I cooked them dinner, whilst I was doing it they went out and bought wine from the pub, and we had a superb dinner with a lot of laughter and I still correspond with them by e-mail regularly and have an open invitation to visit when I am next in OZ.

interesting reading...the one unpleasant couple we had that insisted on their money back after having their two week holiday at our apartment (they left a day early disgusted they were expected to leave the apartment as they found it...they said they spent their last day cleaning and they didnt expect to have to do this on holiday) we reminded them they could pay for an extra clean (our handover folks do a great job...but we expect guests to leave the apartment reasonable) we refused to return their money...and they complained to Owners Direct....who told us they had received a complaint...but nothing further happened....touch wood to date we have had rave reviews...but no one will ever avoid the awful ones forever...we will all get such guests...though must be horribly difficult when they are staying under your roof....with my temper...they would probably find themselves and their suitcases thrown out! though other side of the coin..we stayed in a gite near Brantome a few years ago..3 bedrooms and invited my OHs two sisters and husbands...I could have wept when I arrived...it was filthy..we discovered about half a kilo of mice droppings down the backs of the sofa's..under cupboards...plates in the cupboard has mice droppings on them. The shower barely worked...and it took about 10 minutes to get enough water to come out to shower off the soap...the pool was filthy and tiles fallen into the water...took my sis in law and myself 2 days to clean it....we complained and he kept saying..its a gite what do you expect! we got back about £50...as a token gesture he said...!

There was a programme in TV last year, where, and you might have heard about this, maybe even seen it, where a local B&B - in the UK, were getting very bad reviews, and seeing their place, you knew this could not be true....apparently another local B&B slagged their opposition off in the hope of getting more business....nice eh....is this really the way forward, Tripadvisor is verygood, but sometimes not so good, and at best they are difficult to contact, only when they want you review are they easy contactable....think I have heard of bad guests somewhere incl late payment etc etc....I'm certainly interested in finding out, so anybody out there who knows, please let me/us know.... :)

Sharon: I have thought for some time that there should be a "blacklist" of unpleasant or otherwise undesirable guests that can be referenced in the same way as Tripadvisor. "Guestadvisor" or somesuch. As long as the listings were truthful, and there was a right to reply would there be any legal implications in adding to or referring to such a list? Would you able to refuse a guest on the basis of a negative review? Does a list exist already?

Hi there - I'm not sure if you have heard of a couple of guys (and I'm sure there are sadly a lot more like them out there) who seems to have made it their life's mission because of the existence as the likes of Tripadvisor with everything possible they can find wrong with where they stay and where they eat (must have deep pockets to do this - or maybe not as it could be) not to pay, what sad little stupid men! A lot of people today, think they can get away with who knows what, and it's terribly upsetting when they do, as it's never pleasant.

As we are not in la belle Provence YET, we have an agent who looked after us and our guests, she has a form that she asks people sign + a form to sign for 2 sets of keys with instructions of the cost if these are lost or taken away by mistake, after they have inspected our apartment, that way they cannot turn around and say that they were not happy - and this would hopefully make it all easier for you you could even mention this when people sign their booking conditions, we do, as our agent will charge extra if ie they leave the kitchen in a state. If as you have mentioned, you suggest that people take out a travel insurance, so they should be OK.

Today there's Goggle maps, lots of reviews (just to bare in mind, that people have had to advertise and start their place before they can have reviews on their website) and even Tripadvisor, so it's up to people to check that they are happy with what they book - most info is at the click on the compute, having said that, as above mentioned, there will always be people, if you stood on your head for them, you would still be doing it wrong, and be glad that the majority of your guest are happy, though of course we all want all of our guest to be happy - that's people for you....

All the best :)

We have never had that happen in the hotel, but every time I get a detrimental comment about something which the guest found not to match expectations I have amended our published description. Having said that, it has been very rare and was usually something to do with the fact that we are not in the centre of the village and we do not have a bar. If they know all about your offering before arriving they can not really complain about it.

Do you ask them for a 30 percent deposit?

If they decide to go despite having seen the photos of your place and understanding all the things that you have listed in your advert, maybe you should include a clause stating that they may have their deposit back ONLY if they are not satisfied. Check if that's legal, it could remove the pressure on both parties . good luck

We use the Clevacances standard terms and conditions - if there is a dispute then the local tourist office is supposed to adjudicate in the first instance. I always insist on full payment four weeks in advance for gites (though the french say full payment on arrival) and have only ever been caught out once. With chambres d'hôtes nearly everyone is delightful - only the odd one - but have had one occasion when someone insisted on inspecting the room before unloading suitcases. Use your tourist office if you can - ours are very friendly and I know support us if we needed them.

Hi Catherine

we've given some holiday guests a 'token' refund when they have had to leave due to feeling ill etc. but that has been at our discretion and they have been pleasantly surprised.

Once, however we had a very nasty couple who did nothing but complain from the moment they arrived. I unfortunately had been in the UK when they first turned up, and my OH warned me that they weren't 'nice' people. I couldn't believe my ears when I had only arrived home for five minutes and they summoned my OH - they were shouting at him and speaking to him like a dog! To cut a long story short, I introduced myself, then had a few words with them, and they then informed us that they were going to take their 'custom' elsewhere. I replied that they were perfectly entitled to do that, but that in no uncertain terms would they be get a refund. They parted three days later and a year on, we were still getting hate mail - my OH re-inbursed some of their money for a quite life and the nasty pair were never heard of again!!!!!! I think that we should do a website to 'black-list' troublemakers!!

We are chambres d'hotes with one apartment. We have only ever had cancellations from car breakdowns, illness etc and have always tried to oblige a refund if we can rebook. Until recently however - a guy booked five nights almost a year ago via pay pal. Just five days before arriving he decided to start issuing demands - he wanted a meal every night he and his wife couldn't eat at least six or seven things that are already on our example menu displayed on our website, and he insisted that I had said the previous year that I would buy his wine in for him - I knew this was a lie since we are not licenced ( although if they are cyclists we try to oblige). I always say we can offer an evening meal on arrival - although I point out that by BnB laws here we are not obliged to provide them. He hit the roof saying we had misrepresented on our website and he was going to haul us through the consumers advice( Tee hee here in France I thought!) and take us through the scenario with Pay Pal. Unfortunately for him he also sent spam through a ficticious email address for which he forgot to change the admin name - so whilst I had been prepared to pay back the deposit to keep him quiet - once I had the spam I refused. He said he hadn't sent any - then went quiet when I sent him a copy back. I also proceeded to tell him that the last time we had utterly abusive emails - last time was from a local english BnB who tried to put us out of business, sent an email supposed to be from Al Quada (IP address traceable to the area!) - we took it to the local police and it was with the Ministry in Paris within 5 minutes!!! Haven't heard a word since.

I have to say all of our guests from all over the world - last year Canada to Israel and Denmark to New Zealand and all in between - have been absolutely marvoulous. And it has been a great help to have Catherine and James from Survive France and their site - I haven't always contributed but have read the comments with great interest. So Keith and myself are going to miss all this - closing down this month and heading back to UK due to committments there. But thanks Catherine and James - maybe we will be back.

Anji and Keith


I don't know much about gites, and thankfully, hotel "rules" are generally the same across the board, no matter whether they have a law protecting them,or not.

once the person arrives on the doorstep, and takes a key, they are paying. Unless, as Stephanie says, you have misleading photos, or substandard conditions. If they wish to leave early, the remainder of their stay being paid or not depends on the policy of the establishment. Some hotels keep it all, and others will give a full, or partial refund on the nights not spent at the hotel. The courts are pretty fair on letting hotels keep to their policies.

If all is above board, Catherine, I'd let them go ahead and sue. Lengthy process for them, but, all you need to do is have your bits of paper ready, and stand your ground in court. I doubt they'll even go that far.

My understanding is that people are not entitled to a refund unless you have in some way materially misrepresented your property to them. Not meeting unjustified expectations is not a basis for asking for their money back. We had guests from hell who left within the hour saying the place wasn’t what they’d expected, despite full details, photos etc on our website. They were horrendously nasty and eventually took the case to the European small claims court. They lost - the judge was pretty much contemptuous of their claim. So, people try it on I’m afraid, but stand your ground. I think too many property owners panic and think they’ll be sued for thousands and so give a refund when they really shouldn’t. And that sets a precedent.

At the outset, I have to say to Catherine that if you have only had three bad cases in 12 years in the business you have done extremely well. You enter this business knowing that it is hard work and that by simple human nature you will experience a few "cases from hell" that just do not appreciate what they have been given. Three in 12 years is pretty low incidence in my opinion.

We came to France on over 12 occasions for periods always in excess of 4 weeks, before moving here permanently from Australia and we used gites in every case. I have to be honest and say that probably 90% of the gites we stayed in were great and the owners were most helpful, however, we have experienced a small number where the descriptions and photos on websites just did not reflect the true position. Naturally a visitor has to rely on the descriptions provided as they have no other way of confirming, particularly if they are coming from the other side of the globe. On arrival, if things are not what was promised then it should be discussed openly with the owner or their representative in order to remedy the situation (if required).

Refunds are another thing and should only be given under proven circumstances and even then carefully. I do not know too many people that travel without insurance, but then again have you tried to get a claim through on travel insurance?

In 12 years you must have had many happy clients and I am sure that you have a "Guest Book" which is full of kind comments. I would be luxuriating on those rather than dwelling on the small number of negative cases in such a long period.