You never know when the unforeseen will happen, and sometimes there can be a situation at your vacation rental while a guest is there that causes them some inconvenience. It’s not possible to have one hard and fast rule to go by for resolving complaints and issuing a refund of some kind, so you have to go on a case-by-case basis. The biggest part of the equation to consider is whether the problem was under your control or whether it was caused in some way by your guest. Here’s a short list of things to consider when a guest asks for a refund or some compensation.
If your guests tell you about a problem, first and foremost, it’s your priority to get it resolved as soon as possible. If it’s not a life-threatening situation, and there’s a delay in the fix, you may be able to offer some sort of compensation from partial to full refunds.
- Let’s say the pool at your home is a big draw for guests, and for some reason it won’t be useable while your guests are due to stay. First of all, you must let them know as far in advance of their arrival as possible, so they’re not surprised by it. You could offer them an extra night or two free of charge in exchange for the lack of a pool. This may help to smooth things over and keep them as happy as possible.
- If your pool needs maintenance on short notice while someone is already staying in your home, hopefully they’re already aware that these things can happen, and you’re not to blame. Still, some discount may be in order to keep them happy.
- If your fridge has an ice maker, and it breaks down while a guest is in the house, you could offer to pay for the cost of buying ice while they’re there.
- If your home hasn’t been cleaned on time for some reason, and your guests arrive before the cleaning can take place, you could offer to refund their cleaning fee, or perhaps to call in the cleaners while they’re out for the day. If they’ve arrived before their scheduled arrival date/time, you could still offer a refund, but only if they complain strongly, since they’re the ones that have arrived unscheduled.
Sometimes things can happen that force your guests to leave in a hurry. Frozen/burst pipes in the winter can cause a small indoor flood. Was this something that you were in control of? Did you neglect proper insulation of the areas where the pipes are located? Did a cleaner fail to close an outside door properly? If so, it’s your responsibility to make sure your guests are refunded for the portion of their stay that was affected (or the whole stay, depending on the particular circumstances).
Sometimes, things just happen, and there’s no way to find out how they were caused. Depending on the situation, and after reviewing all the facts, you have to make a decision one way or the other about a refund. There are some situations where you may get a complaint, and you aren’t notified soon enough to fix it. Here are a few hypothetical situations where there should be no need for you to refund your guests:
- Perhaps your fridge breaks down, but your guests don’t inform you until after they’ve left. How can you know when the problem actually occurred? If you’d been notified immediately, you would have called a repair person, but you weren’t given the chance. This may be a situation where a refund wouldn’t be in order.
- Or maybe your tv cable goes down unannounced. As soon as you know about it, you can jump on the repair, but there’s really nothing about this that’s under your control, so there shouldn’t be a need for a refund.
- What if your guests decide to leave because they don’t find the beds comfortable? There’s really nothing you can do about that (aside from being sympathetic), since there’s no way to accommodate everyone’s sleeping needs.
Most problems can easily be sorted out with a clearly written and comprehensive rental contract. If there’s a weather-related situation that forces your guests to cancel their trip to your vacation rental home on short notice, or are already in your home when bad weather strikes, these are both cases where you weren’t in control of the situation.
Be assured that there will be times when you decide to offer a refund because the particular guest is a great repeat customer, and other times when you must simply stand firm and make it clear that there was nothing you could do to prevent the situation. You will have to consider each circumstance on its own, and make each decision on a case by case basis.