We booked a cottage in the Prince Edward County and I had some issues with it… This post is verbatim the email I sent the cottage owner on our second day here. The email bounced back, and I ended up sending the email again on the Monday morning. I’m putting it online to make sure I don’t lose the email when I send it. The email is titled “Alexander Cottage Comments”.
Hi [Cottage owner’s name],
We are recovering from the lack of running water – I will make a few comments now that I calmed down.
The neighbours were nice even if they ended up only doing the exact same thing I was doing, go figure! I’m a city boy I guess. Not being able to prime the water pump is totally on me. However, being told that someone will be right over, having to call you back two hours later to be told that the neighbours are cooking and will be over right after their dinner (which ended up being around 7pm) is really frustrating. If this is an executive cottage, the pump should be primed before I arrive. Just to give you an idea of the sequence: We get here and we see wet towels and linens in the laundry room.
We also smelled garbage in the kitchen. I look in the garbage bin and find that there’s trash in there but no bag. I dump the content of the bin in a bag, try to wash the bin and discover that there’s no running water.
I go to prime the pump and step in half an inch of water. Then we wait 3.5 more hours without running water, not knowing if we will be able to stay here or will have to try to find another rental for the week or if we’ll have to drive back to Ottawa. You can see why this is not an awesome introduction to your place and not “executive” at all.
You should really have a talk with your housekeeper. We spent over two hours Saturday evening and one more hour today removing cobwebs from everywhere – including the living room ceiling, dusting the ceiling fans (so much dust!), washing the garbage bin (previous guests didn’t use a garbage bag, they just threw things in the bin), tidying up the linen closet, putting back DVDs and CDs in their proper cases, mopping and organizing the laundry room, drying bed sheets left wet and piled on the dryer and in the washer by the previous guests, scrubbing the living room porch BBQ, fixing closet doors as best as I could and changing burnt light bulbs (BTW I used the last neon for the kitchen you may want to get some more).
This experience did not feel like arriving at an executive cottage at all. Now that it’s cleaner and organized it’s much better, I’m sure the next guests will have a much better experience than we did when we arrived.
I understand this is not a 5-star luxury mansion in the middle of a city. However, when something is advertised as “executive”, I would not expect to have to clean the place to make it useable / habitable for my family or presentable to the guests that will visit us Thursday. In the state it was in, my guests would’ve either left right away or would laugh at me for having spent that much money on a place in this poorly maintained condition. And let me state this again: Cleaning made the cottage much better, so it’s not entirely a maintenance issue, but the filth exaggerated the perception of disrepair.
I had read the bad reviews your cottage got on VRBO and like you I dismissed most of them because I also believe people are assholes. Now that I experienced the cottage in this state, I have to side with those people too. That being said, I understand that the cottage may not always be in this state, and that I’m one of the few unlucky guests that got here and couldn’t live in the filth and disrepair. Honestly I’m more disappointed because when I read your welcome package I was very impressed by the level of detail you put in that document. I thought: “This is a guy who is proud of his cottage and it shows”. Now, I’m not sure…
If I can list some other annoyances and offer some suggestions to make the cottage better:
- Not having someone on call close-by to squash the problems quickly really makes everything worse. The water pump issue is a minor issue, but by having to wait 4 hours for a resolution it became a major issue. You can see why this is not an awesome introduction to your place and not “executive” at all.
- Organisation makes everything better! Especially the laundry room, which looked like a bomb went off in there. I tidied up the shelves, but you may want to consider installing cabinets with doors to hide the “junk” piled there. Again, I understand you need to keep a lot of stuff to repair things, but I should not have to worry about a drill falling on my head as I’m doing laundry. The fact that it was other people’s laundry only made it worst.
- There’s a leak under the kitchen sink (or there was a leak at some point), so emptying the bowls put there to catch the water should be part of the housekeeper’s job. There was so much stinky standing water in there it was disgusting.
- One of the dining room chairs has been broken and poorly repaired, there’s a screw sticking out at the bottom front of the seat. I discovered that by stabbing myself in the calf. You should have this repaired ASAP before someone else gets injured. I will duct tape a sponge or something over the screw as a temporary measure.
- All the closet handles are badly installed / popping out and all the closets are all falling off their tracks. I fixed everything I could, but you need to really have a look at these when you get a chance. I know some other past guests commented on this and you dismissed their complaints but hear me out: In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal to struggle with a closet door when you open or close it. However, when you have to do this multiple times – especially on the first day you get here and you’re looking for things and putting away your clothes – it becomes a major pain in the rear. In the same vein, there is at least one broken drawer in the master’s bedroom commode.
- The game room is a major disaster. The game room was a massive factor in deciding to come here instead of somewhere else; my son was really looking forward to shooting some pool with me. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but the pool table is so broken that it should not be on the listing. There’s a key for the main door of the game room, but the side barn doors don’t even close all the way. I admit that I was worried by the absence of pictures in the listing.
- It’s nice to supply the linens, this also played a part in our decision to come here. However, had we known from the listing that we had to wash the linens before we left on Saturday, we would have booked elsewhere or decided to bring our own linens. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to go buy queen sized linens (we only have doubles at home). We have high efficiency (HE) appliances at home, and washing 3 beds requires 2 washes, for a total of ~2.5 hours. This means that at my house, I would need to get up by 8:30 at the latest to be able to wash linens. I’m not sure at what time you expect us to get up, considering your washer can’t wash more than one bed at time, and that it requires about 75 minutes of drying time for one bed. The requirement to wash linens before 11am for a family is simply unrealistic with the supplied appliances. This week is even worst, there was 7 large towels laid down in the laundry room to try to absorb the water, am I supposed to wash all these too? I would have to wash things every day… And I’m on vacation.
- This is just a little fun fact: I found a meat thermometer near the TV. The master bedroom TV. I think this is something the housekeeper should’ve seen and picked up.
- I don’t know if you’re aware, but there’s a lot of missing things at the cottage. We didn’t touch any of the board games, but just looking at the closet I can tell most of them are broken or incomplete. You’re missing a lot of DVDs (empty cases) and all the Chef’s knives have vanished from the knife block. We actually found one near the fire pit on day 2.
- The house phone is dead. You’re probably on VOIP with Bell, and there’s no dial tone when I pick up the phone. I have the same system at home (with a different provider) and when it happened they had to change some wires in the house, humidity and squirrels had gotten into them. I could try to reset your router, sometimes it does the trick, but not knowing any passwords I don’t want to risk losing the WiFi in the process.
All of these issues are compounded by the welcome package we got 24 hours before leaving. When I read things like:
Please remember this is a self service cottage,
It is? I thought it was executive?
and therefore, as a courtesy to the next guest leave the cottage, games building and yard tidy, clean
But all those things were not tidy when we got here. Am I going to be on the hook for what the previous guests did or didn’t do?
and with supplies that may run out during your visit such as toilet paper, soap, BBQ propane, ping pong balls and aluminum foil – thanks.
The renting fees should cover that. The previous guests left an empty propane cylinder near the BBQ, now I have to replace it? It doesn’t make sense for me to pay 25$ for propane, have the next 4 guests not have to pay for propane. You should factor in a cost of 5$ per week for propane and manage this yourself.
No wearing shoes in the house
Awesome rule, but to me this means: “This is a pristine space”, which is not the case, so that confuses me. Floors have to be kept spotless, but walls, ceilings, baths and the rest can be dirty?
Do not use excessive amounts of firewood. If you do, there will be a loss of part of your damage deposit. Some firewood will be provided. There are many places around to purchase firewood.
The first thing is how do you define “excessive”? Again, I’m giving you money to use your place that should cover the cost of wood (which we tourists can get for as low as 5$ for a large bag, locals should get wood at a much better price). Also note that you probably have no idea how much wood was at the cottage when I got here. I have a hard time understanding how you will determine that we used too much wood.
About garbage: (2 bag limit per week). Leaving garbage and recycle behind will result in a loss of part of your damage deposit. I would prefer you take your garbage with you if you do not put it out for collection.
The bag limit creates a vicious circle… I understand this may be a municipal by-law, but it puts me in a very awkward position. I will not bring garbage back to Ottawa, especially garbage that is not mine. I’ve been here two days and I already filled 3 bags, all of which were things left behind by previous guests or burnt light bulbs and other things that are not “my garbage”.
Clean up after yourself. If you do not purchase housekeeping services for $100, then you are expected to clean up into a neat, tidy and clean state. If I get a complaint from the next guest about poor tidiness, part of your damage deposit will be forfeited.
This should be in the listing instead of the misleading “This home is completely self sufficient with linens, bedding and supplies provided. All you have to do is just bring your bathing suits and camera.”
Supplies for the hot tub are on the shelf in the laundry room. Before you enter the hot-tub for the first time please place a bag of Spa-lite and run the jets for as few minutes. Also, check the floating dispenser in the hot tub for bromine tablets. There are some with the supplies.
As you saw from previous pictures, the shelf in the laundry room was in such disarray that we had to reorganize it to discover that you were out of the Spa-lite. If you decide to change the products you use, an updated welcome package should be provided.
Hot water takes a little while to reach the bathrooms because there is a long run of pipe to go through. Let the water run and it will heat up. Sometimes guests think there is no water and there is.
Also note that the pipes have been connected backwards in the main shower (cold to hot, hot to cold), which may help explain why some guests think there’s no hot water.
All those rules make me do your job of administering / running the cottage, and I have to report all the things that the previous guests have failed to do or I’ll have to pay for them myself. I hope you see how this put me in a very awkward situation, and this probably explains why there’s a lot of garbage in your garage and unmentioned broken things around the cottage.
Finally I know this is an exceptional situation but expecting me to change my vacation plans to let a repairman in the cottage on Monday morning is really weird. I’m a nice guy and I like to help people so we’ll switch things around a bit to accommodate you. But I hope you understand that this is more something I would normally do to help a friend, not something I’d do for someone I’m renting a place from.
I hope you appreciate the candour, and that I’m emailing you directly and not posting this as a review on VRBO. I totally understand your replies on VRBO, if people don’t make you aware of the issues and only complain after the fact, there’s not much you can do. I’m sharing my (bad) experience upfront and I am making you aware of the issues I have with the cottage, taking time from my vacation to write this email to you instead of spending time with my family.
Our 16 year old daughter said it the best: This would be an awesome cottage if it was ours, because it would be clean and well maintained. To me, it would be an great cottage to borrow from a friend with the understanding that we clean after ourselves and replace whatever we use. This is not a place that is worth 265$ a night, because for that price I expect my linen laundry to be done and the place to be spotless.
The first copy of this email I sent at the address printed on the welcome package (Lance@cia.com) bounced back.
The only question that remains is: Now that you’re aware of what is going on in a timely manner what can you do for me, if anything? Hopefully you won’t dismiss my comments as just another asshole complaining.
[Cell phone number]