Giving Not-Perfect Feedback for HO?

Hello,

I recently had a housesit where I could not enter the condominium at the time agreed upon with the instructions left by the HOs (use the call box). I arrived promptly in the evening. I called the HOs every 10 minutes for about an hour before an old lady let me in. The HOs didn’t get back to me until 3 hours after our agreed time (It was past 10pm by then!). What would I have done if that old lady hadn’t let me in?

I feel like the HOs were really flippant with my time and although they ‘apologized’ by text, it felt like they really didn’t care. They’d even mentioned that they would be without cell reception for a part of their trip in our messages, but I assumed (incorrectly) that if they’d left instructions to use the call box, they would make preparations on their end and be ready at our agreed time to let me in.

I’d reached out to THS, and said that I can’t give them non-perfect feedback because I’m worried they’ll give negative (unwarranted) feedback to get back at me.

This was THS’s response:
"Our members are a community, and with that in mind, we would hope that they would operate in the interest of one another’s safety and security when writing about any bad experiences they’ve had. I’m sorry to hear you do not wish to act in such a way. Whilst I can appreciate your perspective on the matter, your hesitancy to leave a review means that we’re limited in how best we can help, as if we don’t see any instances of negative behaviour that may breach our Code of Conduct being reported by members, then we cannot act accordingly. "

Wow, apparently, being a timely member that was locked out by HOs and being afraid of retribution means that I’m not acting as a part of the community? How about the HOs that literally had me locked out of the home? Are they not acting as a part of the community? They have not given me feedback yet, and I bet they won’t until I give them feedback first.

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I mainly use the web UI, but just looked at the feedback from this sit in the app (which shows non-feedback sits), and 7/8 of the last dates are without feedback! I wonder how many of those seven sitters were also put in a similar situation as me, where the HOs may have been dismissive of their time or energy?

What are you thoughts on giving not-perfect feedback?
Is a not-perfect feedback a reputation killer for HS? What about HOs?
How bad is a not-perfect feedback for a new HS?
Do you just give perfect stars, but then put any critical feedback in a little word-pill-pocket to make it polite?

I’d love to hear from y’all HSs before I decide what I should do about giving feedback for this sit.

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As the sitter’s as well as the home owner’s choices and decisions are based on the feedback provided I would say that the feedback should reflect the experience. Otherwise, what would be the point of such a site as THS. As home owners we will have our first sitters next December and I do hope they will be truthful with their feedback, good or bad.

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Hi Lixie,

I’m sorry you were treated so badly. Your second post about no feedback for 7 of the 8 previous sits, is huge red flag and reminds me to check the app before applying…

I agree that you’re risking a “retaliation” review if you leave honest feedback. Some sitters are experts at leaving read-between-the-lines feedback in order to avoid such a situation. Perhaps you could try that (sorry, I don’t have any suggestions on how to word your review).

Perhaps THS will adopt the Airbnb review model one day, but until then we’re stuck with straddling a fine line between trying to be honest whilst avoiding attracting a vindictive review.

It’s a difficult position to be in…

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Maybe the mods can pass this along to TH programmers.
Airbnb also has feedback/reviews from host and guest. But neither can see what the other has posted until both have posted a review/feedback - at least for a time period. This means that both have to post something before the other can see it.
Maybe TH can tweak the review/feedback section of the sight so it work like airbnb?

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With AirBnb, I have heard that it is possible for an owner or a renter to view a review that was written about them before submitting their own review if they log in to the app from someone else’s account. If so, this is not foolproof. If THS had a similar arrangement so that neither the review by the HO nor the feedback by the sitter were visible to anyone until both were completed, you could end up with stalemates – where sitters and homeowners failed to post because they were reluctant to whitewash a bad situation. This could disrupt the whole model of THS and undermine morale. I guess this is where creative “read-between-the-lines” feedback is in order.
The solution, in my opinion, would be the ability to initiate contact with other house sitters and for homeowners to be able to contact other homeowners via the THS website.

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Hi Lixie. Thank you for providing your feedback here on the forum, and sorry you’ve had this experience with accessing your recent house sit. We are talking to Membership Services about this today and we will get back to you as soon as we can with an update.
All the best
Vanessa

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@mars - This is not true. There is no way that an Airbnb host or guest can see each other’s reviews until both have been submitted.

I have come to THS after 13 years with Airbnb and am really surprised by how flawed the THS review system is. There can be no denying that the Airbnb system is infinitely better and I can only presume that the Airbnb system is technology much more difficult to set up which can be the only reason that THS has not done so thus far.

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@Colin, thanks for setting the record straight re. the AirBnb review system. But it still does not contain honest reviews. The last three AirBnb’s I stayed in had lots of good reviews, but they were all flawed. I have now learned that you must also read between the lines there too. The first AirBnb rental had such thin walls that I was woken wide awake by tenants in the house who came in, tramped up the stairs and put the shower on at 3 am so loudly it sounded like they were in my room. In my review, I remarked that the owner was kind and responsive, the room was attractive and the walls were thin. That’s all. I didn’t want to ruin her business, and I am sure other guests did the same.

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That’s a perfect read-between-the-lines review, polite, respectful but clear that there’s a noise issue (otherwise you wouldn’t have mentioned the thin walls, right?)

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I have a question @lixie.pad. What is the web UI that you mentioned? (abbreviation for something, or a website???)
Your scenario really does present a dilemma for both HO and HS, which I’ve faced several times myself as both HO and HS (including on Airbnb also). I always felt that if reviewers aren’t honest, it won’t help the next person…which could be me! So I opted for what I felt was constructive (and true) but kind feedback. Sadly, most people now days don’t not take it as that and lash back out at any negative comment (and often the reviewer personally too), especially if stars are deducted from their review! So I have also opted for the 5 star approach, with careful between-the-line comments that any astute HS or HO should be able to pick up on. Also, I’ve found that by deducting stars from the minor categories listed in the overall review section, that people don’t get nearly as upset and it may give them a small nudge in the correct direction in the future.
So, you might have given a 5 star review overall, but written a carefully worded sentence about lack of accurate or timely communication, and then given just 4 stars under the communication sub-category. What do others think of this?, since honesty often doesn’t pay in these situations :frowning:

Hi, I totally agree with you Mars. I have found Airbnb reviews totally inaccurate in almost all my stays to the point I do not like using Airbnb. People do not wish to leave bad reviews. So, yes you have to read between the lines. That, to me, is hardly a great system. Even if you do not see the other’s reviews most people do not like to leave bad reviews and neither do I.

@Kerri - I really have to disagree, that is not my experience at all. I have been an Airbnb host for many years, am an admin of the biggest Airbnb host group in the UK, and have lived exclusively in Airbnb accommodation for the last year.
The Airbnb review system is as good as it is possible to get. Departing guests have no reason not to write negative comments if they want to. In fact, a bigger problem is guests being too critical in their reviews.
If an Airbnb listing has a majority of great reviews then it is going to be a great stay - if it has a majority of bad reviews then best to book elsewhere.

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@Colin Agree. THS is an exchange - you get your home and pets looked after / you get to look after pets, in a different location etc - so it is more difficult to leave a negative review.

At my last Airbnb in KL, Malasia I got a message from the owner the day I left asking me to give her a good review as she didn’t want to lose her "premium member’(?) listing. But to be honest it wasn’t very nice, so I gave an honest review. After all, I was PAYING for what was described, and it wasn’t anywhere near.

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Isn’t it great that we are not all alike Colin? Human beings have different experiences. Your experience is your personal experience. Glad to hear you do not agree with others. That means the world is working right.

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I agree. I am reluctant to leave negative comments following a house sit, as it’s obvious from this forum that we all have differing standards so I wouldn’t want my subjective view to influence another sitter who might be perfectly comfortable with the same sit. I also don’t want to influence the HO to give me a negative review!
I’m totally honest when reviewing hotel/holiday let accommodation or restaurants - it’s an entirely different situation.

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My experience has been like that of @Kerri You rarely see a negative review on AirBnb. The AirBnb I mentioned above had such a beat up, mildewed bathroom, I did not take a shower. Thankfully, I had only booked it for one night. Trying to write a read-between-the-lines review, I wrote that the water pressure was good, that’s all, hoping that would get the message across, though don’t know if it did. Another AirBnb got rave reviews because it was so clean. That was true, it was very clean, but it had a musty smell (maybe they were smokers, I don’t know) and it was stuffy. The room did not have a thermostat, so I could not turn the a/c on and it was not very comfortable. I did not mention these two points in my review. Maybe I’m more particular than most? Another one was great, except you had to walk through the family room to use the bathroom and there was a middle-aged man lying on the sofa who acted as if I was invisible – very awkward. Didn’t leave this in the review. Only one of the many other glowing reviews mentioned that you may run into a family member when walking through living space to use the bathroom. I stayed in only one AirBnb that lived up to it’s review. I don’t think AirBnb has the perfect formula for getting honest reviews. Like @gardengirl , I do leave honest reviews about restaurants or accommodations on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, etc.

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Another thought, @toml. If THS operated like AirBnb and did not publish HO feedback until it had received the HS review, speaking as a HS, we could end up with many sits that had no reviews. I don’t know about other HS, but I view a review as my payment for all the effort I have put in to make the HO’s trip as worry- and stress-free as possible. I do not view my assignments as vacations, to me they are almost like a job, and I work hard to do an excellent job.

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I guess I’ve been lucky. I’ve done 30 sits now and really only 1 was problematic - the HO was not a very tidy person. I didn’t feel anything was unsanitary or unsafe, but it could have been cleaner and less cluttered. I reflected that in my review of the sit by quoting the HO who had noted something about clutter in her listing.
The dog was great, the location was great.
Maybe I’ve gotten good at reading between the lines of reviews after 100+ airbnb stays and now 30 TH sits.
Fortunately, all but 3 of my sits have gotten reviews.

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@mars It is simply not correct to say negative reviews are rare on Airbnb, If you look at the listings you will very quickly come across one. Most hosts receive them at some time as you can’t please everyone all the time. The most discussed topic on the Airbnb host group page is negative reviews.

Airbnb has a 5-star rating similar to THS. Departing guests leave a 1-5 star rating - very few Airbnb hosts have a straight 5 stars yet on THS it is very, very rare to find a sitter that does not have a straight 5-star rating. ( and almost all you do find it is only because a past HO has mistakenly not left any stars!)

Can I ask why you don’t leave honest reviews on Airbnb but do on all other
platforms? - It just does not make sense to me - the review system relies on the honesty of those reviewing. I have stayed in well over a hundred Airbnbs. Mostly I have loved them but on the occasion, I have not been happy I have said so - exactly the same when I am reviewing on any review system. What is the point of taking your time to write a review if you are not going to be honest when doing so -surely it would be better just not to waste your time leaving one in the first place?

Also, just to clarify the Airbnb system -
: Both Host & Guest have 14 days to leave their review
: Both reviews are published simultaneously when the second review has been submitted - This allows both reviewers to be honest and avoids the second reviewer retaliating negatively tit-for-tat should they have received a bad review
: If, after 14 days only one review has been submitted then that review is published and the other reviewer loses their chance to leave one.

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