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Late Complaint


Eos

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A letter arrived this afternoon from a client who stayed in our house during the summer.

Although many clients have passed through before and since, all without complaint if the guestbook is anything to go by, this family have chosen now to make a complaint about what they felt was inadequate preparation for their arrival and a general down at heel air to house.

Some of the points they raised may be valid now after a busy season and will be sorted out before next summer but I know were not issues during this summer. I was at the house on changeover days during July and August and thought our housekeeper did a good job each time. Some items on their list were on the to do list for our maintenance people and were taken care of at various points throughout the summer eg replacing blown lightbulbs although we do provide spares and cannot be onsite 24/7 for those types of occurrences.Other jobs are more long term but would not detract from the ability to enjoy the house and indeed passed the rental company's inspection with flying colours. Fixtures and fittings are four years old with many much newer than that.

They also questionned the safety of the electrics although they didn't say why but we had everything checked thoroughly as usual by my FIL, who is a registered electrician, at the start of the season.

I don't really know what to do about this letter. They say they don't expect compensation for by now unprovable, on both sides, inadequacies and have told all their friends to avoid us. I feel sad for them that thet didn't fully enjoy their holiday and I feel sad for me as it's a house I love and I have worked very hard to provide a good service.

Has anybody any thoughts on this?

 

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If I received such a letter after all this time, I would simply send a note along the lines of "So sorry to read you did not enjoy your stay with us this summer. How unfortunate you did not let us know of your discomfort at the time, as we would have endeavoured to put things right for you. Thank you for bringing this to our attention and hope your next holiday will be more enjoyable."

No need to argue, justify your position or apologise. These people will not be back and I don't think you'd want them to come back, would you?
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[quote user="woolybanana"]Perhaps you might reply telling the people that you have tried to offer a correct standard and that you are now telling gite owners to avoid applications by them.[/quote]

[:D]

Eos, you could just re-write what you have told us here. You don't have to mention that your FIL is the electician though. [;-)]

It's nice of you to be concerned about these people. How odd of them to wait till now to complain though.

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Thanks to you all for your replies.

I will respond to the clients and will be using some of the tips you've provided.

I know we can't hope to please all of the people all of the time but we do try.

I'm off now to reread the letter. And to think that the most onerous task I had been anticipating tonight was writing Christmas cards...Ah well, one less to write I guess.

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Eos, welcome to the world of hospitality. Just accept that not everyone will be happy all the time; it is human nature. Some are just miserable types who are even more so when they go on holiday. Believe it or not but there are some who really do expect a red carpet to be rolled out for them to walk on. Continue taking pride in your property and seeing the majority of your guests enjoy themselves.

Makes you wonder why some people ever bother to leave home in the first place.

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Write thanking them for their comments. Pointing out how much more useful it would have been had you received the letter in time to act on their comments before several of your guests had been electrocuted this summer. Say how pleased you were their original correspondance was on soft fully bio degradable paper as you have had several unfortunate instances with the pipes being jammed by harder papers this year. Smile gently and throw the reply in the general direction of the waste paper basket congratulate yourself on having saved he cost of an envelope and stamp.

Consider the letter may have been written by your letting agents. Say your electricity and wiring were inspected in accordance with current current French Normes at a cost of Euros 3000 in January of 2007 and please could they supply more details of their concerns.

At least Ollie Read was pleasent when he came into Milestones Hotel in the mid 1970s wanting a shower. Leant him my room. He had a bet on that he could not get to the Serpentine, have a swim fully clothed and back to the Royal Lancaster Gate without being arrested.

 

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In my opinion, when this kind of person states they "are not seeking compensation" thats exactly what they are hoping for.

If it were me, Id bin the letter and forget it. Its not worth entering into correspondance for something so trivial and unprovable - there is no gain in it for you, they will never come back anyway, and apart from maybe easing your concience (if you are bothered by their comments) a reply will do nothing to appease them.

 

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It's quite funny the stunts some people pull. At our last house we had a gite alongside our B&B,an english couple booked via a friends recommendation. Believe it or not we didn't at that time bother with deposits. 3 days before the expected arrival.in August, the lady phoned to say that her M.S. had flared up and they would be unable to come. My wife offered her sympathy etc and was thankful we didn't have health problems and so forgot the loss of a booking/income.  As we were on a busy route we did put a few B&Bers in there.

About 3 months later we had a phone call saying if we could let her have a receipt for the 2 weeks, she would claim on her insurance and let us have half.!!!!!! We did put her straight. The recommendation came from our accountant[no longer]. Takes all sorts.

 I expect they complain every year when their insurance premium renewal comes up!

Regards.

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To the original poster,

 I would be inclined to give the customers the benefit of doubt.  After all, it takes time to write a letter and very few people will make all the effort if they didn't feel let down by their holiday accommodation.

Read it with an open mind, don't take it personally, and be thankful that they bothered to take the time to write, even though it wasn't right after their vacation.  Perhaps you can take heed of what they say, write them a nice note letting them know that you acknowledge their concerns.  Perhaps in the future, send a follow-up customer satisfaction form to guests right after their holiday to get instant feedback...?

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Thanks for your comments BP.

I did read the letter with an open mind and have answered with one too as I believe all feedback is a good thing & I want to provide value for money at the very least. As I said in the original post, some points are unprovable on either side at this stage but some more are inaccurate at best and just not true at worst. I leave a guestbook asking people for their comments, good, bad, or indifferent & my rental agent always makes a follow up phone call. At neither point was any issue flagged.

I guess you can please some of the people etc...

 

 

 

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[quote user="Eos"]

Thanks for your comments BP.

I did read the letter with an open mind and have answered with one too as I believe all feedback is a good thing & I want to provide value for money at the very least. As I said in the original post, some points are unprovable on either side at this stage but some more are inaccurate at best and just not true at worst. I leave a guestbook asking people for their comments, good, bad, or indifferent & my rental agent always makes a follow up phone call. At neither point was any issue flagged.

I guess you can please some of the people etc...

[/quote]

 

Eos,

I can understand that you must be a bit disheartened (don’t be!), and it is good that you are trying to understand the customer's perspective instead of dismissing his/her letter outright (as some of the comments recommend)

Just a couple more thoughts from my side:

Don't try to be judge and jury here - i.e. your comment "some points are unprovable" - well they may be, but nonetheless, if you approach it from the perspective that "customer is king", well then accept the complaint and try to fix it, rather than rationalize why it may not have been an issue (I know it is hard not to take it personally, but at the end of the day, it is a business and customers judge what is good value for their money, not you...)

 Little things such as fused light bulbs may not seem a big deal to you, but they may really tick some people off. I, for example, think a hotel/holiday accommodation have not done their job well if lights are fused when I check-in.  (I don't want to change bulbs on a holiday - I do that at home...) This lack of attention to detail really irritates me, and yet it is quite easy to fix by having the housecleaner check lights are working as a part of their cleaning routine...

Does your agent really call up and talk with each customer after they have left – it would be really surprising if he/she did not sense that this batch of guests were unhappy – is it in the agent’s interest to communicate these complaints to you or will he/she try to gloss them over?

 

Again, don’t take it too hard, but I do want to push forward a pretty hard stance on this. I am surprised at the lack of customer orientation I often see in the gite section of the forum...fortunately I must stay in places not owned by some of the folk here, as the places I have stayed in are mostly lovely, and with great service.  There are some places I would never go back to, but thankfully, these are a minority – and no, I never make a complaint upfront as I often sense that the owner/manager doesn’t  want to know my thoughts anyway...

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"I am surprised at the lack of customer orientation I often see in the gite section of the forum...fortunately I must stay in places not owned by some of the folk here, as the places I have stayed in are mostly lovely, and with great service.  There are some places I would never go back to, but thankfully, these are a minority – and no, I never make a complaint upfront as I often sense that the owner/manager doesn’t  want to know my thoughts anyway... "

I'm inclined to agree that some comments on this part of the forum occasionally display something nearing contempt for customers!

Just because the complaint letter is late doesn't make it invalid. When returning home from holiday, the last thing I'd want to do would be to get all wound up penning some complaint or another. I then get into the demands of work and it slips my mind. It may pop up again later in my mind, when I begin thinking about going away next year. If I feel strongly enough about it, I would write, possibly when some of the venom had dissipated a bit. So the OP may find that the complaint covers fewer (remembered things) with less less hysteria than might have been the case if sent 'at the moment'.

It's obviously up to the Gite Owner to decide whether or not the complaints are valid and whether or not to respond. No business will ever get 100% praise, all of the time but these kind of comments can be useful to pinpint what might need to be looked at to maximise re-booking, recommendation etc. The gite wasn't perfect was it? And somebody noticed and felt prompted to say so. Don't take it personally. If the rent reflects the fact that it's not 'perfect' then this can be a difficult subjective compromise for Guest and Gite Owner alike. But I'll bet the all the lights will be working next Summer! 

 

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I guess things can be learnt by all gite owners from this one.

 

As pointed out by Darnsarf the period of time is not that big an issue - no-ones going to complain before the deposit is back and cleared - then they may have moaned and grumbled before the OH got annoyed and got them to write.

I have rented many properties over the last 10 years and only ONE failed to live up to expectations and this was because the owners totally loved their property but were blind to the issues of a holiday tennant.

 

All gite owners should check, as a matter of course, during the season:

Do all electrics work (inc. Bulbs)?

Just how clean is the kitchen - is there dirt and fluff down the side of fridge - DISGUSTING!

Toilets - Damp floors do make for a good first impression.

Glasses and cuttlery - always have more than needed.

Charging for sheets and bedding - put the darn things on bed.  IF I PAY £40 PER SET I DO NOT EXPECT TO MAKE THE BED.

Clean the pool surround as well as the pool.

Ripped/stained/dirty sheets/towels - come off it!

This may sound like a bit of a rant, but when a customers pays the going rate it is not to much to expect the above.  If the turnaround company cannot do a proper job, either sack them or pay more money but do not expect the house to carry the burden of poor preperation.

 

Best house I ever stayed in was in the Perigord Noir - Spotless on arrival, beds made, welcome pack/wine/flowers and a maid servece every 3 days - made me feel like a millionaire.

 

 

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