Saturday, September 13, 2014

Short Term Rentals are not for the FAINT OF HEART!!!

Geez....been darn near a month since I last posted.   I've had all kinds of excuses.

My laptop crashed.....TWICE!! (yeah, yeah Scottie...it's a PC and not a Mac).   The first time, the hard drive just died and with it a ton of files and emails.  Whenever anyone has to rebuild from scratch, it takes DAAAYS to recover and even then many things are not recovered.  Last time this happened (just months ago) to my SIX MONTH old computer, I got a couple of thousand emails downloaded into Outlook.  To prevent that (or so I thought), I went into native Gmail and deleted tons of old emails.  Well, I don't know HOW it happened, but I when I was restoring my Outlook folders this last go-around, I got emails clear back to 2002 downloaded into Outlook AGAIN!!!   I mean, this was before I had my waterfront house built (of which I lost over $200,000 of my hard earned money when the market collapsed), emails from a witch-of-an-attorney who sued me for an easement across my property (and bold-faced lied to the judge) and WON.  Before we found out Dad had (and died from) prostate cancer. Emails from when I was with ATT and Comcast!  Before my brother passed from colon cancer.   Before 3 great-nephews/nieces were born!!!

EEESH....not fun to see those emails.   DELETE!!!!!

The 2nd time it 'crashed' it turned out to be only (only) because the hard drive slipped from it's docking which effectively disconnected it.  Luckily, nothing lost.

My friend 'Dex' has been a HUGE help in getting me back up and running (all 3 times!).  Time for humor.  One time, 'Dex' called and excitingly told me 'he got it up!!!'.   I flatly responded that he really should be talking to his wife about this, not me.

That was just one of my excuses.  The others are the run-of-the-mill reasons.  I'm tired.  I've had too many cocktails.  I'm not in the mood.  It takes too much time.  I've had too many cocktails.

Ok, now that I've completely deviated off course from the subject of this post, I will oblige by getting back on track even though I never started out ON track!

A few months ago, I wrote a smidge-of-a-rant about people who think short-term rentals should cost lesss than a Motel 6.  I stated my case.  I rested my case.

Since then, I've had a few mind-boggling experiences with 'Guests from Hell'.   Thus, the title of this blog.

If you're considering getting into the short-term rental biz, consider the following.  Aside from the managing of inquiries, booking requests, reservatiosn, tracking, cancellations, reviews, cleaning, pickups at the airport/van/bus locations, promotions, pricing, repairs/replacements, marketing, etc etc....there's the added risk that you'll get morons staying in your unit(s).

I might be ranting, but my guess is you'll be laughing or at the very least your jaws will be gaping open.  Cases (real) in point:

1.  If you've been reading my blog for a long time (thank you), you'll recall the story of the young couple with child from Mill Creek (Seattle area) who:
    • Thought paying $30 a night was a rip-off for a 2-level modern loft apartment, fully furnished, kitchen, linens, towels, dishes, you name it.  But, probably wouldn't flinch at paying $30 for a TravelLodge.
    • Didn't like the blender I bought to replace the one that stopped working
    • Didn't like the internet speed because, after all, they brought all their internet devices with them....to Cuenca....Ecuador....South....America.
    • Didn't like the selection of videos I provided (out of about 70 in inventory)
    • their child screamed at the top of his lungs when he didn't get his way (sorry neighbors!)
    • Wanted a refund when they bailed early on in their stay...leaving me with an empty apartment.  Who's going to book an international destination apartment at the last minute?
    • GRRRRRRRR
2.  Then there's the guy who loves bleach.  Bleached everything in the apartment.  When I arrived to clean, my eyes burned from the bleach.  So did my towels and sheets.

3.  One of my competitors experiences:
  • Guest who demanded teflon pans, then ruined them.
  • Guest who demanded she provide a cast iron skillet (they don't "do" teflon).  Gee, did they ask about this BEFORE they booked?  Nope.
  • Guest who wanted daily cleaning services (for an apt that rented for $30 a night).  Ummm....sure...Motel 6 costs $45 a night at a minimum but for $30 a night and an entire outfitted apartment...yeah...sure...we'll come and clean the place every day for you.  NOT!!!
4.  One of my guests left me a note when they checked out.  They said the bottom fitted sheet tore when they took it off the bed.   They left me $5.50 and 'hoped this would cover it'.  Sorry, no, five dollars and 50 cents doesn't.  I guess they presumed I had cheap Ecuadorian sheets on the bed.  Decent sheet sets cost about $70 here.  The sheet they tore I brought here from Costco.  Oddly enough, the tear was L-shaped (about 10" by 10") and not at the seam but in the middle of the sheets.  Now, exactly how much effort does it take to pop off an elastic sheet from the mattress that would cause an L-shaped (note...L...) in the MIDDLE of the sheet?  I've never had one in my ENTIRE LIFE.    I took ahold of the remaining intact portions of the sheet and tugged and yanked an jerked but nothing tore.  Hmmm...go figure.   Sheet set...TOAST.

5.   Then there's the guy from Sequim...just 15 miles from my home town of Port Angeles, Washington.   An Attorney.  (UH OH).    A dear new friend of mine told me that those folks who announce 'who' they are or 'what' they do in the first 30 seconds of a conversation are bound to be trouble.  With a capital 'T'.   I, too, have noticed that.  Doctors, Lawyers, Executives, Cops, Politicians....boastfully announce in short time that they are "XYZ".  Therefore, you must be impressed and/or shake in fear.

He pre-inspected the apartment a few days before his check-in date.  Okey-dokey.  When we were chatting, he interupted our conversation and said he needed to use the bathroom because he has prostate cancer.  Ok, I get it.  My Dad had it and I knew the symptoms were the urge to 'go' in a nano-moments notice.   A few days later, he informs me he doesn't have prostate cancer, that he was treated and cured of it.  WTH?

Billl demanded QUIET!!!   He moved from another short-term rental in Cuenca to one of my apts because the other was too noisey.  I thought my place would be perfect for him because it was situated in the back of the building away from the street.   He, after all, was here....in Cuenca....Ecuador...South....America....and needed to work....back home...where he lived...in Sequim....Washington....USA.....via the internet.  Ohhhh.....kaaaaaay.

He asked that I pick him up from his temporary digs at a Hostal and to call him a few minutes beforehand so he could bring his belongings down and be waiting for me.  I called him a few minutes out.   I pulled up front but he was nowhere in sight.  I drove around the block, same thing.  I did it again, same thing.  There was no parking out front and the street was single lane.  I called him.  He was waiting in the lobby. He expected me to park and come get him in the lobby.   Gee, couldn't wait out front on the street, eh?

I drove him to my apartment building.  I got out and offered to carry one of his bags.  He said "I'd rather you take this one"....the largest/heaviest bag.   yes SIR!!!   At your service SIR!!!  (for $42 a night).

Right off the bat, he fried the drop-down cover to the stove.  It's glass.  He thought he was supposed to light the gas burners, then put the glass cover down over it and cook on top of it.  Well, it shattered to smithereens.  Oooops.

Workers were in the midst of remodelling the apartment downstairs.  Bill demanded they keep the that apartments front door closed.  He demanded they turn off their radio music.  This....emanating...from downstairs....thru their closed door....up one floor....through the closed front entrance to his apt....through the closed bedoorm door where he was working at a desk.  The noise was "UNACCEPTABLE!!"  A word he used A LOT.
bBiu
Quite frankly, if the Queen died and the funeral procession passed the building,  Bill would've complained about the UNACCEPTABLE noise!!

One day he called to inform me the apartment had bed bugs because he had bites.   This, from my 2nd guest, in a new apartment, in a new bed.  GAWD!!!  He informed me he had diligently researched the internet and ascertained that, yep, he had bed bugs and what am I going to do about it?  He washed everything but the ceiling in the laundry.

Next day.  Calls me.   Informs me he does NOT have bed bugs after all.  What he had discovered, after THOROUGHLY researching the internet is that.....because there are pidgeons hanging around (probably smoking cigarettes and doing drugs) outside on the rooftop (as pidgeons normally like to do) and coo-cooing, there must (therefore) be nests (damn those horny pidgeons!).  And, where there are nests, there must be mites or some sort of bug thing.  And, therefore, THEY are the culprits of his bites.

Bill, to say the least, was a nightmare guest.  Every day, I was called with idiotic questions such as   'Where do I go to get milk?'.

He wanted access to the internet router because he couldn't be without one second of internet.  If his connection were to be interupted, he wanted to be able to reset the router.  After all, resetting the router always fixes things and he had had to do that darn near every day in his previous accommodations in Cuenca.

Gee....if the internet is down or the service provider is having problems, that magic button ain't gonna do diddly squat dude.

Are your eyes crossed yet?

Just wait....

6.  And, there's those who write emails, and write emails, and write emails before they come, asking question, after question, after question, after question.  I literally have had some guests write me dozens of emails BEFORE THEY ARRIVE!!!

What should I pack?  What's the weather like?  Is Cuenca safe?  Should I get my hair cut?  How do I get to Cuenca from (XYZ)?  Is the apartment noisey?  How many steps are there in the stairs?  What's the water pressure like?  Is there hot water?  What are the dimensions of the shower?  Does anyone else share the sunroom in my apt?  Do I need vaccinations?  How much money do I need to bring?  Will my credit card/atm cards work?  What currency does Ecuador use?  Is there heat?  I murdered someone 10 years ago, will this affect my ability to get a residency Visa?  Is it okay for a single woman to live there?  Will my high tech phone work there?  I'm vegetarian, will I be able to eat there?  How are the medical services?  I have asthma, will the altitude affect me?  I have difficulty walking, so stairs are an issue....will this hamper my ability to get around Cuenca?  Are there jazzerzize classes?  Do I need to bring special electrical adaptors?  What's the internet speed?  Can I get almond milk there?

I spend hours and hours and HOURS responding to all these questions.  Nicely.

7.  Rapid fire:

  • The very obese guest who complained about all the stairs, yet had bags of snickers bars on the kitchen counter.
  • The guy who was shedding waaaay too much hair (from down South...no, not where he lives, but...on his body....GET IT?).
  • The email I received saying the ice maker wasn't working.  Answer: take the tray out, put water in it, and in a few hours...voila...you got ice cubes.
  • The guest who had to buy a cheese grater because I didn't provide one.  I opened the drawer and pointed to the (now two) graters sitting there.
  • The email asked if I had a coffee grinder.  I rushed my personal grinder into town for him thinking I made a mistake and accidentally bought beans instead of ground coffee.  I didn't...it wasn't beans.  He just didn't look.
  • The guest who was furious with me because I didn’t advise him beforehand to be sure and bring his laptop.
8.  I saved the best for last.  Next comes Glinda.  No, not Glinda the Good Witch....Glinda the BAD WITCH.

I had a gut feeling, in the first 10 minutes after picking her up at the airport, she was going to be a handful.

What normally takes me 15 minutes to give my guests an orientation of the apartment, took me an hour.

She wildly told me about the nightmare apartment she stayed in, in Quito.  The plumbing problem and the man who showed up with black, BLACK hands and dirty shoes!!!

Then she went into a tirade about how her I-phone (or some like gizmo) passwords were obviously being stolen.  She would reset the password and before she knew it, it was stolen and she couldn't access her emails. SEVERAL TIMES!

She was here to invest.  She, after all, was an expert at construction engineering or.....something along that line.  She knew everything and she knew all the tricks and shortcomings of workers who don't do their jobs correctly.  Yeahhhh....she's all over them buggers.  She wanted to invest.  She said 'where do retirees want to go?"  'They want to go to the beach, right?'  That's where she wanted to invest.   Ummmmmm......then why are you in Cuenca....in the Andes....at 8,000 feet?

So, okay, she's a bit of an eccentric.  I can deal with that.  I checked her into my modern loft apartment.

She asked....'does the security guard speak English?'.   Ummmm...nooo....you're in Cuenca....Ecuador...South....America.

'Well, when I check out, I need to have a taxi service here at 6am to make my flight'.  'I don't speak any Spanish'.  'How do I do that?'.

Deep breath.

Next day.

Glinda emailed me that she had a horrible night sleep and her body was wracking in pain all due to the 'worst bed she's every slept in...in her LIFE'.   She wanted to know what I would do?

Okay...this was an eccentric person...a bit over the top.  I decided she should just find another place that suits her better and told her that.

I didn't need to do anything more. But, I decided in order to make my guest happy, I would pitch in and help find her a place.  I searched online and eliminated several properties I knew she woudn't find acceptable.  I sent her several links of places I thought she would like.

She responded that none of them were available.  Well, I filtered the selections based on her date needs and, yes, they were available.  She replied that she 'didn't know what I was looking at, because what she was looking at said they weren't available.  Sighhhhhhhhh.   I even sent her a screen print showing they were available.  She wasn't buying it.

I called one of my acquaintences and asked him....'is your place available?'  YES   So, I emailed her back (mind you, she has a cell phone I provided her, but it was all about emails with her) and informed her this place (a VERY nice cottage) was available for the same price as mine and was available IMMEDIATLEY...and...here is their email....and...here is their phone number.

Does she call them?  No.  Does she email them?  No.  My apartment was so horrible but she didn't take the opportunities provided to her to get out of my hellish apartment and into a very nice place as soon as possible?   Nope...she submitted a request through the website and was awaiting their response.

OMG!!!

Ok.  Fast forward.  The owners of the cottage and Glinda made a connection and she's booked to move to the cottage.  Great. She should be happy there as I know the place and it's very nice.

Email to me.  'Will you drive me to my new accommodations?'

What I wanted to say (but didn't).  SURE!!!  You're ditching me because you say my bed is bad even though I've had over 100 guests stay in my apt and NO ONE has ever peeped that the bed was uncomfortable, I have several 5-star ratings, and you expect me to refund your money.  SURE...I would LOVE to drop everything, bow down to you, cater to your every need, and deliver your holier-than-thou ass to your new splendid digs!!!!

Email to me.  'I'm starving and I'm tired and I need to get something to eat....what do I do?'.

What I wanted to say (but didn't).   Go outside the effing apartment and choose from a variety of places!!!!

Email to me.  'I called Pizza Hut and wanted to order pizza to be delivered...but they only spoke Spanish!!!'

What I wanted to say (but didn't).  What did you expect?  You are in Cuenca....Ecuador....South....America!!!  You don't know a single word of Spanish!!!   Annnnnnnddddd.....Pizza Hut is ONE EFFING BLOCK AWAY.....WALK YOUR ASS OVER THERE!!!!

'I need a taxi to go here/there.  How do I tell them where I want to go and how to get back to the apartment?  I don't speak any Spanish'.

What I wanted to say (but didn't).   You have no clue how to even enunciate the words (names of cross streets) because you have no clue how to pronouce Spanish vowels!!!  Exactly HOW did you think you were going to manage affairs (yet alone INVEST) here in (altogether now...say it with me) Cuenca....Ecuador....South....America???

Email to me.  'It was soooo cccccold last night.   I was freezing.  I slept on TOP of the bed with all the blankets wrapped around me.   I didn't use the sheets, so they are clean and don't need washing (when she was checking out).

What I wanted to say (but didn't).  Really?  You were cold but chose not sleep INSIDE the bed under the sheets, but chose to sleep on TOP of the bed?   No words.

She had been in Quito.  But complained it was too cold there.  Ahem...did you not notice Quito is located at 9,000 feet and you're here in Ecuador in our 'winter'....July/August,,,which is our coldest months of the year???   You're from Camarillo (outside LA) California and you're leaving the hottest months of YOUR year?  Did you do ANY research before descending upon us?

Here's a doozy you'll LOVE.

When she was about to check out of my apartment and move to my friends cottage, she sent me (yet another) email.   'The elevator is not working (down for an hour for maintenance).  My ride is due to show up any minute.  I tried calling the security guard for help but he only speaks Spanish!!  What do I do?'

What I wanted to say (but didn't).  TAKE THE STAIRWELL AND WALK DOWN ONE EFFING (I say Effing because my Mom reads this) FLIGHT OF STAIRS...AND YOU'RE FREEEEE, FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEE AS A BIRD!!!!

I felt so bad for my friends who owned the cottage that Glinda was moving to.  The next day I wrote to them and apologized for unleashing what I deemed 'Hurricane Glinda' on them.

I guess it wasn't much different for them either.  The moment she arrived she started nit-picking things about the cottage..how her maid would do a much better job, blah blah.  She kept up the email communications even though her hosts lived less than 30 feet away....LOL!!!!   She emailed them requesting a taxi to take her to the supermarket....which is....about....900 feet down the street!!!!   She invited herself into their social circle, got drunk, and woke up in another mans house and didn't know how to get out.

omg OMG OMG!!!!

So, yes....this is the cushy, easy-money-flowing gig I have as a short-term rental operator.

Wanna join the club?

HAVE AT IT!!!!


Dano


Ps....if you think I'm zaggerating, just check out this article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/blogdramedy/idiotic-travel-complaints_b_4073107.html


I
Rest
My
Case
No
Further
Questions
Your Honor!!

About Me

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Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Cuenca and greater Ecuador. I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live here.

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