Advice for what to do about a bad experience

We just returned from a month away. It was my first time using TrustedHousesitters as a home owner after being a sitter in the past and having a great experience.

We found a small family to look after our house and independent cat. They had good reviews and we even managed to meet them in person before the sit. I wrote a welcome pack with al the instructions plus showed them a few things in person. So we left confident that our house and cat were in good hands.

The first odd thing while we were away was the lack of communication. I just put this down to different ways of doing things and settled on having to ask for updates.

We returned and have found several concerning things.

The thermostat was turned up to 25 degrees (I’d left it on 19) and there was an electric heater plugged in in the kitchen. I’m terrified of the bill and will be checking the usage asap.

They moved all sorts of things around in the house and didn’t put them back. Things like lighting and furniture.

The tumble dryer filter was so clogged up and clearly had been used a lot without cleaning it. Despite being shown in person how to use it. It was a fire hazard.

The sitters asked if they could drive our car to the shop once at the end of the sit. I agreed. We’ve just discovered it no longer has a reverse gear. There was no communication about this.

I’ve found metal screws and ceramic objects in my 15 month olds toy boxes where they’ve tidied up in a hurry.

They left two large suitcases in our bins.

They also left all sorts of random things in our house. Food, cooking utensils and electricals. And also child’s drawings taped to the walls.

I’ve tried to contact them but they are not replying.

All this adds up to a very bad experience. I feel like we’ve been taken advantage of and I’m going to have some huge bills to pay as a result. I’ve contacted trusted housesitters and they have advised leaving a review but wanted to post here to see what people thought?

Sounds very strange. The metal and ceramic things in your child’s toy box is concerning.
How were their reviews? Not references, reviews. Did they have any? I’m guessing they are not US-based sitters (who have to have the background check done).

1 Like

19C is 66F. That is a bit low for most people, I’d say, especially in a drafty home. 25C (77F) is way too high, in my opinion, though I know some people do like to crank up the heat. Had you discussed the thermostat/heating costs?

We are sitters, a few of the individual things you mention are not too bad, like the ones below, especially if sitters have came from overseas, but when you add all of the issues up it’s bad. I don’t even know how you brake reverse gear, metal screws and ceramic object could have potentially been bad-bad. Taping things to the walls indicates they have maybe never owned their own home, and potentially just rented so they perhaps didn’t realise the damage it can cause, but why they would want to tape anything to someone elses property is beyond me. I’m so sorry you’ve had such a bad experience, most of us sitters have common sense!

But for the future:-

Elec - Not sure where you are, but weigh up the cost for the extra elec versus a paid sitter for whole month, you will still have saved a lot. We are happy in the UK at 19 degrees if the temp is regulated, but sometimes we need a little extra if there’s a cold snap as whilst the temperature should be regulated at 19 sometimes it ‘feels’ colder, but if your sitters were from warmer places overseas then they would need a temp that was good for them as they will be used to warmer. Also, leave plenty of blankets for the sitters, to save on your own bills, rather than just for your cat. Also, I would point out that if they need it warmer there are blankets for them, and only to adjust the temp if they really need to, given the cost of elec nowadays.

Communication - You need to discuss your expectation of how often you’d like updates with your sitters, we always ask home owners how frequent they’d like pics, for some it is daily, for others every 3-4 days, everyone has different ideas, so ensure your sitter knows this. Also, if that doesn’t happen, I would have popped them a message saying can they automatically update you every ?days, to save you badgering them… but still badger them if they don’t do it!

Tumble dryer - There are still a lot of people who don’t know how to clean the filter or empty the water out if needed, so in future I would put a big note on it and say it needs emptying after every use, some may be used to a launderette or their parents doing their washing. Also leave any manuals that you are able to (you can usually download old manuals online nowadays), as sitters have an awful lot of new techie things to remember, and their focus is mainly on remembering about pet food and any medication and habits etc.

But yes, what you have said sounds bad.

Hello
I’m really sorry to hear you had a bad experience. I can only imagine how disheartening and frustrating that must be. As a sitter, I am always so surprised at some of the things I hear sitters do and the strange things HOs find upon their return.

I have accidentally forgotten an item on a few sits, but to leave that amount of stuff behind is obviously deliberate. I can’t imagine someone simply forgetting that many things. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal in that you can just throw them out, but I think it shows poor form on the part of the sitter to just leave stuff behind they don’t want.

As for the thermostat, I have never had a HO specifically ask we don’t adjust the set temperature. In fact, most times they explicitly say to set it to our comfort. And in cases where nothing is mentioned at all, I assume it is okay if I adjust it, but it is never more than a few degrees for a shorter period of time–I try to be mindful of energy use in all my sits and I would never run it at such a high temp for extended periods. In most cases, the temp is already set at a comfortable level and I don’t touch it.

If a HO is concerned about energy use, it is important to discuss that beforehand or the sitter may assume they can just set it as they wish You can be forgiven for not anticipating such high consumption, as I don’t think most people would take it upon themselves to run it that high for extended periods.

The screws in the toy box is concerning for sure as well as the issue with the car.

The good thing is blind reviews are now live so you can write one expressing your concerns without fear of getting a bad review as some sort of ‘revenge.’ But sitters and HOs can still respond to reviews, so it is still important to craft it in a factual non-emotional way. Then if they happen to respond in a defensive way, it will be clear who the real problem was.

1 Like

Thank you for your advice and reply’s.

I’ve now checked the electric and gas usage and found that my combined bill for the month will be £755. This is about £300 more than it was last year, when we had a new born baby on the house so we’re keeping it extra warm.

Trusted house sitters have replied to my message saying that they can’t do anything and that I should use the review system.

I’ve contacted the sitters again and tried to calmly and practically explain the extra cost and I’ve asked for help. I just hope that they are as shocked as me at the cost they ran up and offer to help with the bill.

1 Like

I am so sorry this happened. It sounds very odd. I do hope the sitters reply to you and take responsibility. Please leave an accurate review. Inconsiderate sitters make it hard on all of us.

1 Like

@katnip all UK household energy bills have gone up this year compared to last .

For a fair comparison you need to compare the usage kWh rather than the cost.

However , unless you stipulated and agreed that you wanted a contribution to heating bills in your listing or that the house should not be heated above 19degrees then it’s not fair to expect the sitter to know that this was your expectation .

I say this as someone who is very comfortable in a house that is kept at 18 degrees and turned off at night . However I have relatives that always complain that they are cold in my home when they visit . When I visit them at their homes , it feels like a furnace to me but that is what they feel comfortable living with .

6 Likes

Super annoying to have a bigger electricity bill no question, however prices have gone up considerably since this time last year so, as @Silversitters says, you need to look at consumption not total cost @katnip in order to assess the situation. Add to that whether you did or didn’t have the “you need to pay for extra utilities” conversation with your sitters and then it’s decision time. It’s then, just one of those things to learn for next time. Onwards and upwards as they say :+1:t3:

4 Likes

Did you specify your communication needs? Did you put in your welcome guide or at least verbally tell them the range they were allotted to change the temperature?? Communication is a two way street! I understand this was your first time doing this but the people here are suppose to be treated as guests and normally you want your guest to be comfortable. For long sits, That might mean the rearrange a few things as well. I can’t imagine it would take more than half an hour to discard their items and move furniture around.

For next time you need to state in your profile your requirements for energy usage. While I recognize that they put the temperature very high (much higher than I’d be comfortable with) asking them to pay after the sit is a problem.

It is very concerning that they didn’t empty the lint and left object in the toy box! Those are genuine safety concerns for your child and home and I hope the sitters were apologetic about that! I don’t know why you care about them leaving luggage in the bins???

1 Like

Prices have gone up in U.K. as you surely know. What you need to ask yourself is whether you could have had your pet looked after for under £300 in the time you were away. If the answer is yes, this was not a good deal. If the answer is no, it’s still a win-win.

About the nails and the rubbish left behind, there’s no excuse for that and I would definitely mention it in my review.

1 Like

Leaving luggage in the bins is an issue because the council will not collect that, so the OP will now be responsible for taking it to the civic amenity. It’s an extra imposition on her

1 Like

Did not realize that’s how it worked there! That is inconsiderate of the sitters!!

Our family has had 15 sits so far and most pet parents have stated to set the thermostat where we feel comfortable. If you expected people to leave it at 19degrees or help pay for utility fees if it went over that, you needed to have mentioned it in your listing. Sitters should have moved things back on the items that were moved around but not every sitter takes pre photos. Dryer filter should have been cleaned as it is a hazard to have it clogged. Some of the other things are a bit weird. Looks like there could have been better communication on expectations between you and the sitters and looks like they could have been more organized prior to departure. Not every sit is perfect so I would suggest using this as a learning opportunity and adjust your “Responsibility” section and ask better questions for your next one. Good luck.

1 Like

Just to confirm I did work out the difference in cost based on units as I’m aware that the price has gone up and down recently.

Honestly, for us, next time I will get someone to check in on our cat and give him a cuddle every couple of days and we won’t go away for so long. It’s just not worth the potential cost.

I’ve asked THS for a refund to help with the bill.
We’re a single income family with a small child and the cost of living is already difficult. We spent more than we could afford to go away and now we’ve returned, it transpires that the cost of the housesitters was more than the cost of the utilities and rental we stayed in.

I’m just very disappointed and feel like we’ve been taken advantage of.

2 Likes

@katnip Have you thought of becoming sitters yourselves ? Since you have your own home and cat, you have experience of looking after both. There are many sits in U.K. that accept families and you would not have to pay for accommodation.

2 Likes

If you want THS to take this seriously you could submit a formal Complaint via the Complaints procedure

I spent a couple of years being a sitter back in my late 20s.

Honestly, we struggle with day to day tasks atm and keeping things clean because of sleep deprivation (babies are hard work :joy:). I’m not confident that I would be able to take care of someone else’s home and pet to a standard that I would be happy with.

1 Like

Thank you. I’ll wait and see what communication I get from the sitters.

2 of the family of 3 had never lived outside a very hot country so I suspect they were not used to the temperature drop here in Oct / Nov (north of Ireland).

I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, however one photo that was sent during the sit pictured their young child in the house in just her underwear so she clearly was not cold. You’d expect people to at least put on some clothes before turning the heat right up. It’s common sense.

I’ll stop talking about it now. Thank you to everyone that replied with opinions from both sides. You do live and learn. In situations like this you need to decide how you will change your behaviour moving forwards. For us, this is the end of our trusted house sitter relationship.

2 Likes

Not for everybody. I am here now in my well-insulated home in Sweden in just a T-shirt. The district heating (from wood chips) keeps the place comfortably warm any time of the year. Usage is not metered for individual apartments. I keep windows closed this time of the year, but when I see some neighbours…

So such neighbours might have turned up the heat in the large nice but somewhat drafty homes in Brussels and in France where I was last Christmas and this chilly spring. Before putting on warm clothes.

I feel very sorry about your experience. I think you are right about sitting with a young child.