Cancelled sits - help from THS

Hey folks!

I’ve been pet sitting for decades now, but recently I had an experience to keep me on my toes.

Recently, when on a remote sit, the owner unfortunately became ill, and had to return to the home with short notice , letting me know at 9 pm that they would return the very next afternoon, and we would need to vacate the next day. Of course there were no ill feelings at all, but the travel expenses of re-booking travel came to a fair whack (In the UK unless you book in advance the prices hike considerably), and we had got food in for the week. Until that day we were WFH, so our holiday was due to begin the very next day, when instead we had to go home that day, so it was an unfortunate timing for everyone involved, again no hard feelings as this was an unfortunate circumstance indeed.

Having looked for alternative accommodation and established next to nothing was available (remote location combined with staycations increasing due to covid meant nothing , not even on airbnb available in the area) we returned the next morning. However, this was a huge shock to the system especially after putting such love, care and effort in with their pets, and even worse we cannot afford a replacement vacation and also we have lost the annual leave from our jobs on this also at it was too late to cancel through work. We saw one possible alternative accommodation but it was £170 a night, and a bit further away from the town we were sitting in , so we discounted this as an option.

I was wondering, to help if this ever happened again, what support is given from THS? I contacted them to advise and they said cancellation needs to happen from the house owner’s side, and that was the end of it.

This experience has majorly knocked my confidence with house sitting, and I am now only keen to book close to home in case of cancellation. Of course we should plan for such eventualities, but without a car and with all other accommodations booked in town (The town tourist board said they are at 100% capacity currently) I am not sure what else we could have done in this situation.

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I am so sorry this happened to you and as a HO I must say I would never expect the sitters to pay for everything if I needed to get back early and them staying in the house for some more days isn’t an option. At least I would pay for the next couple of days until they were able to make some further plans. Even if any kind of illness is nobody’s fault I would feel so bad to have disrupted their plans.
If there was no accommodation available at all I would try to find at least a guestroom at a friend’s house or something like that. If you know people in the area there is a solution, but you have to want to find it.
This is definitely something that should be talked about beforehand, because illness from both sides can always happen.
I know this doesn’t answer your question concerning THS at all.

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@Briany thats every sitters nightmare and you will get alot of sympathy as your post is read…so sorry this happened to you. I always ask a HO to formally cancel the sit if it is not going to go ahead from their end but not sure where you stand when it happens while you are on the sit and perhaps @Angela-CommunityManager can comment as it could impact on any sitter at any time. I know their is some sort of insurance scheme but have not looked at it for awhile and with the different levels of membership perhaps there is some accomodation help from THS within that. I am sure Angela can let us know where we stand with this. Without a car and possibly on a low budget/income, this scinario poses major problems for some sitters. At least with a car you can pick up a cheap tent and sleeping bags somewhere and make some sort of plan but what does a sitter travelling on public transport, who has just bought a weeks supply of food, is in a remore lcation and is on a limited budget do? I really hope you have better experiences in the future.

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Hi! Thank you, that is a very kind and well thought out response, I should add that the town also does not have a rail station and buses few and far between so travel requires a degree of forward planning. Perhaps it is a learning experience for me, and I am considering just taking sits in major cities (well connected & with other accommodation freely available) or near to home next time around. Hopefully I can build confidence & remember it is just an unfortunate twist of fate and focus on all the excellent sits with lovely HOs I have experienced previously. I have had lots of lovely experiences on my city sits.

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Hello Briany and welcome to the community forum. I’m so sorry to hear about your recent experience and the short notice you were given. We never want to learn that a member’s confidence has been knocked, and it is disappointing that the owners didn’t provide you with more support. There have been so many occasions where owners and sitters have organised help for each other in unfortunate circumstances like these, and as @Düsenzofe mentions many owners go out of their way to help.

It has been more of a challenge since the pandemic, (but of course this could happen at anytime). For us as full-timers, very quickly at the start of the pandemic we did a bit of a risk assessment process, looking at all the possible scenarios that might occur and built those into our pre-sit conversations. Even so, it’s been a learning process. Now, like you mention we are only looking at sits within a 3 hour drive of home.

Ultimately all arrangements are between us as sitters and the owners, and so we have a contingency budget for if things go awry. However, THS has recently introduced a level of membership that includes sitter cancellation insurance which I believe would have helped you in this instance. Terms do apply (as with all insurance) so it’s worth reading the small print, but with the uncertainty around travel at the moment, it’s something we’ve seriously considered.

Once again I’m really sorry to hear about this experience, and I have sent you a direct message also. I also hope we can as a community restore your faith in house sitting… I’m still loving it after nearly a decade… and I hope you will too. All the best, Vanessa

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@Briany @Vanessa-Admin what Vanessa says is all very solid advice and don’t let the experience put you off even looking further afield at interesting sits, although I would say that taking on remote sits without your own transport brings with it all sorts of possible problems. Vanessa’s idea of running through all the different scenarios prior iand planning for them is very wise and we should all be doing that. Here’s wishing you great sits down the track.

Hi @Briany like everyone who has responded I am so sorry that you have had this last minute change, it has happened to me also and @Vanessa-Admin does give some wise advice …

We do care and the community is here to support you, please don’t be disheartened.

We have all experienced bumps along our pet and house sitting journey, the most recent one being a global pandemic, that’s not to minimize the effect this is having on you but like Vanessa, after more than a decade I am still finding this lifestyle, the pets and the people my inspiration and could not imagine life away from our amazing community … stay with us for I’m sure you will feel the same and this moment will become a distant memory.

Best wishes,

Angela

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I have been cancelled for a sit when I was at the airport and boarding the flight for the sit. I was furious. I have never heard from her after not a sorry.
Her brother was diagnosed with Covid and she changed her mind for traveling alone.
HO has to come with some responsibilities. This has to be in their sign in with app.

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I can understand that this is very inconvenient and I would also be furious if there was no sorry. Illness does happen however and nobody is to blame because of it. I also wouldn’t travel if my husband was seriously sick or my mother, who is 82 and I don’t know for how much longer she will be around. The difference is how it is handled by the cancelling party. If possible I would offer some kind of compensation, maybe not paying for the full airfare but at least part of it…depending on the situation.

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@Grandma @Düsenzofe yes thats not good and its more about the lack of concern the HO seems to have shown rather than the reason for cancelling which as @Düsenzofe points out can happen to anybody; she also makes a very fair point regarding some sort of compensation and I think it is more than reasonable for you to ask for at least some of your airfare costs to be reimbursed; they can only say no or ignore you so you have nothing to lose. Happier travels ahead.

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I have worried about this kind of situation and am sorry you had to go thru that!
I have several sits lined up now, for the next few months and even into next year (plus one in 2023!) and I know any one of them could be cancelled at any time for various reasons.
I contact the HO of my next couple of sits every week or so, just a “checking in” message to let them know that I am healthy and looking forward to the sit. That also gives them a chance to let me know if anything has changed. Some message back right away saying how much they appreciate the message, that it eases their concerns and puts them at ease. Others just send back a quick “thanks” and that’s fine, too. I just like to keep the communication going prior to the sit.
As far as last minute cancellations, that’s kind of a scary thought, especially in an area without other options! That’s just one of the reasons that I tend to stick to cities or places that are fairly close to cities or places that I have friends or family near by. It does limit my choices but it works for me.
Good luck and I hope this doesn’t happen to you again!

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The little I’ve read about the HO’s options, I understand that for THS’s insurance to kick in, the HO needs to cancel within 14 days of the sit starting.

I bought this insurance and my understanding (without reading any fine print) is it covers the pet sitter for $150 a night upon arrival not just a cancellation within 14 days. I have now been in threat of a fire evacuation and hurricane alert. I assumed the insurance would cover me if I had to seek shelter with the pets at a hotel. I would appreciate if admin. could respond in full as I am headed to Portugal from the states for 3 different pet sits.

Gosh, it is really important that you get clarity on this question. Keep me informed. Good luck and stay safe.

Hi @claudinekent welcome back to our community forum, it’s been a while since we last saw you. I am going to ask @Therese-MembershipService to pick this up with you tomorrow when she is back online meanwhile here is a link to details on the sitter cancellation

Hi @claudinekent @LTD @Angela-CommunityManager The cancellation insurance applies if the sit is cancelled mid-sit as well as within 14 days of the start date. However, a couple of things to be aware of:

  • It must be the owner who initiates the cancellation
  • Any cancellations as a result of government legislation are not covered. Therefore, if the government were to say you had to evacuate, unfortunately, this would not be covered.

This policy is designed for sits that are cancelled ‘last minute’ by the owner (or the sitter for owner insurance) due to unforeseen circumstances, rather than a policy designed to cover cancellations due to adverse conditions, disasters, etc.
I hope this helps to clarify, and hope you and the pets keep safe. I hope you and the homeowners are in constant touch, during such a stressful time.

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What if you arrive at a pet sit and the home is not acceptable due to filth, behavior of animals etc???
Pet sitters do not have any fall back and protection?

@Briany I feel sorry for your very bad experience, I do hope you will write in your feed back that owners have not helped you at all (they could have offered to let you stay in a guest room, to drive you somewhere else, to find a solution among friends or suggest to pay an airbnb)
I would never drop a sitter like that, whatever could happen