Can you please add a section to HO listings & welcome guide for in-home cameras?

Newer homeowners with the best intentions often aren’t aware of this requirement, and it puts the sitter in an uncomfortable position to have to bring it up (for me, it feels just as bad as the camera itself!) Part of what I believe we are paying for is THS to provide that sort of basic structure for interactions and information exchanges between HOs and sitters.

I am currently at a sit that was last minute, and I’m the HO’s first sitter. It doesn’t seem like the kind of scenario where they read the rules and thought they didn’t apply to them, but more likely an oversight that wouldn’t have happened if there was a mandatory field somewhere the HO would have to click through before confirming their first sit.

I had to request a welcome guide but the HO took the time to fill it out right away, so I feel certain if there had been a tiny but mandatory Welcome Guide section like the one for the wifi password, this HO would have taken a few seconds to consider it. If there was a box to tick for “yes there are indoor cameras,” they could have gotten a pop-up alerting them they couldn’t proceed without disabling them.

The burden is also on sitters to make sure HOs have a welcome guide at all. It’s not as uncomfortable as asking about cameras (and risking the impression you have something to hide), but still something THS could easily handle by disabling the “confirm sit” button till the HOs have actually filled in the welcome guide - and making “do you have cameras? if you clicked yes, you’re not getting a sitter because it’s against the rules!” part of the guide they have to complete.

It seems a bit unreasonable that this topic has been raised so many times, yet there is no mechanism in place to make sure each HO gets alerted to it. Sitters should not be left with the burden and discomfort of bringing it up.

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Sure, the sitter must be informed if there are any such cameras in place. Personally, I would feel rather uncomfortable about being “watched”, but on the other hand, some HOs might want to use such a security system. But they definitely must tell the sitter! Otherwise… what if I run through the house naked… that would be very embarrassing.

@happycatsitter. Ben from product services has addressed this point in previous posts. There are prompts when creating both the listing and the Welcome Guide that drawn this rule to a homeowner’s attention.

@Romana homeowners cannot under any circumstances use internal recording or monitoring devices as it is against the THS policy. It does not make it OK merely by a homeowner disclosing their location and/or use. I’ll add the policy below, for everyone’s benefit.

Francine,
Volunteer Forum Moderator

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Thanks for clarifying @Snowbird, I had no idea there were prompts. I guess I naively assumed there were none, giving the HO the benefit of the doubt, but this HO must have blatantly ignored them as it was my request for a welcome guide a couple days ago that prompted them to create one.

Are you able to share any detail about them or even a screenshot? If I decide to bring the cameras up with the HO, it would be nice to know what prompts they’ve already seen for context when deciding how to handle the conversation.

How do other sitters handle undisclosed cameras? I guess I feel a bit trapped because it would reflect poorly on me if I brought it up or looked for another sit and tried to cancel the rest of this one. I don’t want to abandon my commitments or risk getting a bad review when I am not the one ignoring rules that are important to mutual trust between sitters and HOs.

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My point is that there is no mechanism in place to ensure the HO follows the rules and informs the sitters. I don’t want to hide anything, I just want to not have that “you’re on camera so you can’t relax” feeling all the time, lounge in my pajamas, etc.

Don’t you think it would be easiest for THS to handle this? Maybe an extra button to click before the HO confirms a listing or accepts an application, or a field they must fill in the welcome guide to confirm they’re at least aware of the camera rule?

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Hi @happycatsitter I do not have a combined membership and so as such I don’t see what homeowners access so can’t help with sharing any details or screenshots.

As for how to approach the topic of cameras and surveillance equipment, I address it in my video chat. I tend to be quite informal in my video session, where we get to know each other a little to assure that we have a comfort level. During that chat, I mention that I’m on the forum and that I’ve learned so much here. Then I continue on by saying ‘for example …’ and then bring up the topic of cameras, air tags, and anything else that I may feel should be covered. It works for me in that I’m not accusing, but rather sharing information. It’s also before the homeowner completes (or updates) their Welcome Guide, and so it alerts them to this point.

We all have different ways of handling everything, but for me that removes any sense of me accusing anyone of anything. I also don’t feel at all embarrassed then either. For a recent sit, my homeowners had only lived in the home for five weeks. Their response to the camera talk was ‘We don’t think there are any? We hope not?’ and we had a good laugh over it as it put the question in their minds too. :thinking: :rofl:

I’m going to tag @Therese-Moderator so that she can check in with you when she’s next online tomorrow and address any questions you might have.

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@happycatsitter … thanks @Snowbird for great advice. To confirm, when a homeowner is filling out their listing, there is a clear notification block referring to disclosure of cameras and a link to our policy. Homeowners should also fill the camera information under the security section on the welcome guide.
I hope this helps clarify a bit better
Kind regards
Therese

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This is interesting. I have recently had phone conversations with two new home owners. During the conversations I asked if they had heard of the Code of Conduct and the response was “No”.
I then went on to ask about security cameras and they had not seen that on the website either. Fortunately, neither have security cameras and I progressed with the sits.

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After reading this thread, I thought that I would look over the Code of Conduct again. It’s difficult to even find it. It’s not on the main THS landing page. It’s listed on my Dashboard, but that just takes me to a blog about the Code. And this post hasn’t been updated since 9/2021 and doesn’t mention cameras. If you happen to look under Help, there is a question about the Code, but again no link to it. It’s no wonder that they haven’t heard of it.

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Hi @Therese-Moderator
I should be grateful if you would read my thread below yours and then @Brad response.
Something is not right!!?

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My request is specifically for the welcome guide to actually point this out to HOs. As it stands, there is nothing about the security section that reminds them or alerts them to the rule about cameras. This would be such a simple change to make!

@Itchyfeet @happycatsitter there is a home section in the Welcome Guide and as @Therese-Moderator says in the side panel there is a paragraph referring to cameras and a link to the policy.

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Hi @Itchyfeet … just to confirm as @Brad mentioned, the code of conduct can be found on your Dashboard … if you scroll down a little to the Insurance and Guideline block … there is a link to this there. The last update is correct as 9 Sept 2021.

Both sitters and homeowners on registration and payment of their account, have to tick that they have read the code of conduct, before they can continue. The security camera references are very clear in our terms and conditions.

Hope this helps
Kind regards
Therese

So worst case scenario, are we allowed to cancel or leave a sit if we discover cameras which were not disclosed and the situation is uncomfortable?

What happens to a sitter who has to cancel for a reason like this? Do we have any protection from the possibility that HOs will leave a “revenge review” if we take appropriate steps like sending an email to member services beforehand and documenting the issue, whether it’s a camera or something else equally serious?

Thanks if anyone can confirm the official THS rules on this. I certainly hope I won’t ever find myself in this situation - but given that emails to member support often don’t get prompt replies, I would like to at least know what would happen just in case.

@happycatsitter I suspect that there won’t be a “one answer fits all” on this as any scenario can have a slightly different set of circumstances. This is why generally we’d always advise contacting membership services to discuss individual support issues whatever they might involve. But I’m tagging @Therese-Moderator so she can pickup on this and give you feedback when back online tomorrow morning UK time, particularly in respect of the consequences of a home owner not complying with the camera policy.

@happycatsitter As @Vanessa-ForumCMgr mentions, every scenario is different, and it is treated on a one on one basis, so we always recommend you immediately contact Membership Services, as well as the homeowner themselves, who can often help solve the issue quickly. Naturally, the pets wellbeing is always of prime importance and should not be left until alternative arrangements are made for their care, should there not be a suitable solution found.
I hope this helps give a little more clarity.
Kind regards
Therese