The Alexander Cottage

Hi,

If you’re here you are most likely coming from the VRBO website or one of the other HomeAway family of websites. I created this page because VRBO has a limit of 2,500 characters for reviews and I needed more characters to fairly describe the cottage I rented. I also wanted the chance to post pictures, and interact with commenters, since VRBO doesn’t offer the option to comment on the owner’s response (which I’m pretty sure is forthcoming) and doesn’t allow other users to comment on a review except with those helpful/not helpful icons.

Hopefully this page can help you decide to rent the Alexander Cottage or to stay away.

This page will be divided into multiple sub pages and links to other places (Flickr for pictures). All updates will be posted on this page, right after the index.

Note: July 31, 2015: This page is still a work in progress, I wanted to post a review on the VRBO website before the end of the month. Not all the links are active but they will be shortly. 

Disclaimer: I was reimbursed about 1/3 of my stay (650$) which I think is fair considering I spent 2.5 days cleaning and taking care of the owner’s cottage. At least I don’t have the feeling that I paid to go clean someone else’s cottage.

Index of the review

  • The Alexander Cottage (this page). Read why I’m doing this, and the initial review published online on VRBO.com
  • The VRBO listing. Just in case the listing changes or disappears, here’s a copy of the listing as it appeared on July 27, 2015 on VRBO.com/112558.
  • The original Guest Package. Read the document we received 48 hours before getting access to the cottage.
  • The long email I sent to the owner on the Sunday night. This email bounced because the email address on the Guest Package was wrong, so I resent it Monday morning.
  • The pictures showing the state of the cottage when we got there.

These should be enough to allow you to make your mind about the cottage. However, feel free to read the following pages if this seems unbelievable.

  • The plumber(s) visit. I was expected to stay at the cottage to open the door to the plumber, and make sure he was fixing things properly. Then things got weird(er).
  • The complete chain of emails I had with the owner.
  • The complete exchange of text messages I had with the owner.
  • The VRBO adventure. Read how hard it was for me to post a “bad” review on the VRBO website.

Because I’m a nice guy:

The VRBO review

We rented the cottage through VRBO.com. This is where I posted the original review, which I then copied to all other websites where I found the Alexander Cottage offered for rent. You can head to the VRBO website to read the review, or read it here:

This was the original review I submitted, but it was rejected by VRBO. 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

★ (out of 5 stars)
Note: VRBO only allows 2500 characters for reviews, for a complete review, including pictures and the email and text conversations I had with the owner during and after my stay visit https://lesombre.wordpress.com/the-alexander-cottage/

The Good
The floor plan of the cottage is great. The living room has comfortable seating and a giant fireplace.

The Bad
The cottage is not as advertised. The listing is titled “Waterfront Executive Cottage”, but the cottage is only technically waterfront (it has a ~20’ wide by ~80’ deep lake access) and not at all executive. The pool table is a toy pool table, broken, unplayable and missing balls in a shed behind the property. It is untrue that “all you have to do is bring your bathing suits and a camera”, but you only discover this in the cottage package that you receive 48 hours before your rental period, leaving you no time to find other accommodations should you wish to.

The cottage package is where things start to fall apart. In this document, you’ll discover that when the owner says the cottage is “self-sufficient” he really means that you have to do everything for yourself, and everything for him. This includes taking your trash back home, replacing empty propane tanks left by previous owners and buying laundry soap if there’s none. It also includes inspecting the cottage and reporting anything that the previous guests might have broken / not done. The linens are provided, but you have to wash them before you leave and the appliances provided are not efficient enough to wash 3 beds before the 11am checkout time unless you get up really early.

I had to stay at the cottage Monday to deal with the plumber coming to service and repair the water system. The owner considered it normal that I’d take care of this for him, even after I told him that I was on vacation and not his employee. This took 5 hours.

The Ugly
Never once in my communications with the owner did he apologize for anything about the state of his cottage. When I asked for a partial refund of 2.5 days (which I eventually got) the owner initially reimbursed me less than one night’s stay. When I asked for the rest, this was his reply: “two conditions of any further refund is that you will not do any reviews of the cottage and you will remove the photos of the cottage from Flicker and not post photos or discuss the cottage on other social media sites.”

I am convinced the owner won’t accept any blame and will post some dismissive reply.


This is the review I ended up posting. Hopefully people will be smart enough to use Google and end here.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (no links)

★ (out of 5 stars)
Note: VRBO only allows 2500 characters for reviews, so this is a very limited review. Furthermore, I can’t include pictures here or any other documentation (emails, texts messages) to support this review. I can’t link to my blog either.

The Good
The floor plan of the cottage is great. The living room has comfortable seating and a giant fireplace.

The Bad
The cottage is not as advertised. The listing is titled “Waterfront Executive Cottage”, but the cottage is only technically waterfront (it has a ~20’ wide by ~80’ deep lake access) and not at all executive. The pool table is a toy pool table, broken, unplayable and missing balls in a shed behind the property. It is untrue that “all you have to do is bring your bathing suits and a camera”, but you only discover this in the cottage package that you receive 48 hours before your rental period, leaving you no time to find other accommodations should you wish to.

The cottage package is where things start to fall apart. In this document, you’ll discover that when the owner says the cottage is “self-sufficient” he really means that you have to do everything for yourself, and everything for him. This includes taking your trash back home, replacing empty propane tanks left by previous owners and buying laundry soap if there’s none. It also includes inspecting the cottage and reporting anything that the previous guests might have broken / not done. The linens are provided, but you have to wash them before you leave and the appliances provided are not efficient enough to wash 3 beds before the 11 am checkout time unless you get up really early.

I had to stay at the cottage Monday to deal with the plumber(s) coming to service and repair the water system. The owner considered it normal that I’d take care of this for him, even after I told him that I was on vacation and not his employee. This took 5 hours.

The Ugly
Never once in my communications with the owner did he apologize for anything about the state of his cottage. When I asked for a partial refund of 2.5 days (which I eventually got) the owner initially reimbursed me less than one night’s stay. When I asked for the rest, this was his reply: “two conditions of any further refund is that you will not do any reviews of the cottage and you will remove the photos of the cottage from Flicker and not post photos or discuss the cottage on other social media sites.”

I am convinced the owner won’t accept any blame and will post some dismissive reply.

 

 

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