Author: LeSombre

I’m allergic to cats, dust and fools. I have opinions, I read opinions, I discuss opinions. I drink Espresso. I can’t grow a beard. I think you’re wrong. I think I’m wrong. I think. I don’t believe the medium is the message. I see all the possibilities at once. I build stuff with my hands, I take stuff apart with my mind. I procrastinate, I time-travel, I juggle. I shot the Sheriff, I let the dogs out, I know where the beef is. I could already be a winner.

PEC 2015 Cottage issues.

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.

Laundry room, as we arrived.

Laundry room, as we arrived.

Another shot of the laundry room, as we arrived.

Another shot of the laundry room, as we arrived.

Laundry room, now that I mopped the floor and cleaned.

Laundry room, now that I mopped the floor and cleaned.

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.

Dirty garbage bin

Coffee grinds in the bottom of the bin. The bin as about half full before I dumped its content in a garbage bag.

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).

Removing cobwebs from cathedral ceiling.

I had to use duct tape and 3 broom handles to reach the cobwebs.

These are the dusty blinds in the master bedroom. This is no “fresh dust”.

These are the dusty blinds in the master bedroom. This is no “fresh dust”.

 

Burnt bulb.

Burnt bulb.

More burnt lights.

More burnt lights.

The living room ceiling fan. So. Much. Dust. It’s like a bunny farm.

The living room ceiling fan. So. Much. Dust. It’s like a bunny farm.

Gross BBQ.

Gross BBQ.

A better angle to show the stuff left on the BBQ.

A better angle to show the stuff left on the BBQ.

Cleaned BBQ. I won’t say it was easy to clean, but it was possible to have it this clean.

Cleaned BBQ. I won’t say it was easy to clean, but it was possible to have it this clean.

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.
Before.

Before.

After. I simply reorganized the stuff on the shelves.

After. I simply reorganized the stuff on the shelves.

While we were waiting for the water to be fixed, my LovelyWife folded everything in this closet.

While we were waiting for the water to be fixed, my LovelyWife folded everything in this closet.

During that time, I reorganized the DVD collection. Bottom shelf are the missing DVDs.

During that time, I reorganized the DVD collection. Bottom shelf are the missing DVDs.

  • 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.
Water under the sink.

Water under the sink.

  • 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.
Screw sticking out.

Screw sticking out.

I flipped the chair, this is from the bottom.

I flipped the chair, this is from the bottom.

  • 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.
Closet 1

Closets!

Closet 2

Closets! Closets!

Closets! Closets! Closets!

Closets! Closets! Closets!

Closet? You'll love it! (I don't get it either)

Closet? You’ll love it! (I don’t get it either)

  • 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.
Broken handle, can’t close the side doors properly.

Broken handle, can’t close the side doors properly.

The broken pool table.

The very broken pool table.

  • 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.
Used by the previous guests to mop the water from the laundry room.

Used by the previous guests to mop the water from the laundry room.

  • 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.
Whatever floats your boat, right?

Whatever floats your boat, right?

  • 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 lonely rat tail...

The lonely rat tail…

This is a little sad.

This is a little sad.

  • 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.

Cheers,

Michel Marcheterre
[Cell phone number]

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Remote-ly interesting

Here I am at home listening in via web conferencing to Educause. Normally*, I’d be in Orlando listening live, moving from session to session, complaining about the heat and humidity, bitchin’ about the food and so on.

But of course, since my little event in June – I may post about this later, or not as most of the people reading this are already aware of what happened – traveling is not part of my immediate future, so I’m sitting here listening and watching talking heads and slides on the laptop, from 8am to 6:30pm. Those are really long days. Presenters are for the most part decent, but the subjects are not interesting (to me).

I think the conference is as bad as I remember. When I said normally before, I should clarify that I have not been going to Educause since 2010 or 2011, because the last 3 Educause conferences I went to were not that great. This one is par for the course.

I’m not sure if watching by webcast is a curse or a blessing. On one hand, I can sit here in my underwear, unshaven and unshowered (how is this not a word?) and still get paid. On the other hand, spending the day staring at the computer screen is pretty boring – and no it’s not the same as working on a computer all day.

On the other other hand, I love to multitask, so you’d think this fits right up my alley – I can cook, play guitar or even repaint the living room at the same time… Meh.

I’m just tired. I need a vacation from this time away from the office.

Never a day off…

Yesterday I had the day off. Of course, this means that it’s the day where i received the most emails, phone calls and work texts. Someone from work even reached me through the Facebook messenger.

But is a  strange twist of events, I managed to ignore them all and do something else… I repainted the living room.

Never a day off…

Ello World

So there’s this new thing called Ello. In away, it reminds me a lot of the early days of Twitter, when seeing new followers notifications was the coolest thing since sliced bread. The interface in minimalistic, and I like the felling I get from this place.

I’m inspired to blog again… Just like in the good old days.

Who know how long this will last, but buckle up people, here we go.

You can find me on Ello at Ello.co/LeSombre.

Skyrim

I know I’m late to this party, but I’ve just got a PS3 a week ago.

So what’s the goal in Skyrim? Not that it matters, I really enjoy walking around the map, shooting arrows at deers and wolves. I think I messed up my forst attempt at making some sort of armour in a forge, and I may have killed some NPC that I should not have.

It doesn’t help that I got a used game, and it didn’t come with the manual. I’m a sucker for manuals, I can read those all day if I had to (and I do have to in the thing I do in exchange for real money).

Is there anything I should really do while in the game? Anybody wants to be my friend on the PSN and probably kick my ass at some games?  😉

Speaking of computer-related things, I have to find an alternative to Minecraft for my son. It turns out that Minecraft is a bandwidth whore, and my son goes through 10Gb of data per day when he plays on his iPad. Needless to say, the 90Gb plan we have is busted in less than a week… Anything similar that I can buy for my son that wouldn’t require as much bandwidth? If it plays on a Mac, that’s even better.

Let me know!