Managing when the details and terms of a sit change

How do people feel about the ‘terms’ of a sit changing after it’s all been agreed, and how do you manage it? Has anyone experienced this and sought support from TH?

As full time sitters, it’s difficult to say ‘no’ to changes (whether they are put forward before the sit begins, or discovered upon arrival) as it risks loosing the sit- and we’re often already in love with the animals! It sometimes feels like we’d be well within our rights to withdraw from the sit, but we never have because we worry about the impact on our review from the HO, possible reprimands from TH- and, more than anything, we’d hate for the animals to be left without the love of a live-in sitter as a result of us not being able to do the sit or leaving early.

So I wanted to ask about what might actually happen in those situations.

The sorts of things I’m thinking of;

  1. If the HO hadn’t originally asked the sitter to pay bills but, a couple of weeks before the sit, said that the sitters would have to contribute?
  2. If the start and/or end dates changed and the sitter had to accomodate or lose the sit?
  3. If it emerged the dogs were much younger and/or had difficult behaviour than what was described in the TH profile, and so required much more time and training than expected?

Have any sitters asked TH for support in such situations, and how did you feel you were treated? If it was before the sit (like dates changing signficantly or being asked to pay the bills), were you able to use the TH cancellation insurance? Or was there an expectation from TH that sitters absorb changes in dates and bill arrangements? If it was something during the sit- like the dog being much younger than expected or a dog displaying aggressive behaviour- are sitters supported to leave the sit, and are HOs still able to review them?

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As a sitter who is retired and flexible with date changes, I wouldn’t be bothered by that. I would be very bothered by asking to pay bills after committing to the sit. It also wouldn’t sit well with me if they weren’t upfront from the beginning about the age or behaviour of their dog(s).

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I have wondered the same. Good questions, especially as many of us might not like conflict and just try and go with the flow.

I also wondered what do you do when you arrive at a sit and the owners are still there but the place doesn’t look as clean as you might have hoped? Do you ‘suck it up’ and wipe down after they left (that’s what we did) or do you confront?

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I’d feel very uncomfortable confronting homeowner(s) about the state of their place. Not everyone has the same standards of cleanliness. I would just suck it up :slight_smile:

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I think flexibility is certainly something homeowners value in a sitter. As a couple with two cars, we can often accomodate a change of a night or two, as we can be in separate sits for a couple of days. When it’s closer to a week (two weeks in one case!), it is trickier- particularly if it means we’re left without anywhere to stay. We have now started being very clear about flexibility (or lack of) as early as possible- for example, we’ll let the HO know if we’ve booked flight or if we have event for the day after the sit ends, or if our next sit requires that we both leave the sit on the agreed end date. I do wonder at what point the change of dates would allow sitters to claim a cancellation on the TH insurance- if the HOs decided to return a month early from a 3 month sit, would TH assist? (Appreciate you don’t have the answer!)

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So, I always take pictures if it’s especially dirty, as I would hate to end up with some kind of complaint to TH and be unable to show that the dirt was already there. However, we do just ‘suck it up’ and clean the areas we need to use. Luckily, most of our sits have been immaculate and/or had weekly cleaners, so we’ve not had to worry too much! In one house, the end of the loo rolls even got folded into little triangles, which felt very luxurious!

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@second_star I have actually sought advice from THS and been supported by them a number of years ago. It was in relation to an international sit that had been booked a number of months in advance and I was just touching base with the HO a month out from the sit. I received quite a shock to learn a) they were no longer living in the thatched cottage but a modern home, b) they had given away 2 of their cats (and I love cats), and c) they had acquired a puppy, making it 3 dogs now to look after and I specify I only will look after 2. So what had been agreed on at the time of confirmation had been completely changed AND the HO had not informed me! With THS advice I was able to have the sit cancelled by the owner (although the owner was not that happy but had to agree where they had changed what had been agreed upon). They still had time to re-advertise so I did not leave them in the lurch and I easily was able to replace that sit.

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1- we would not accept a sit where we were required to contribute to bills and we would cancel a sit if that was requested after confirming. We have enough of our own costs to take care of!
2- if we are able to we always try to accomodate date changes especially if its a day or two at either end. It often helps us out too if we’re on back to back sits with short gaps between that need filling. If we have flights or other concrete bookings obviously we are less flexible but I do believe flexibility is a great asset for both sitters and hosts.
3- that’s more tricky. I think it rather depends on each individual case- what exactly the issue is and how it affects you. Some unexpected challenges are easier to handle than others!
If it doubt reach out! Don’t suffer in silence if you feel you’ve been unfairly misinformed.

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Say you applied for a job to a receptionist, and you were hired to do that job, and then the day before you are set to arrive they tell you you are actually going to be operating the forklift in the warehouse.
Would you still accept the job or would you decline even if that meant they’d be out a forklift driver??

I know it’s not strictly the same thing but agreements made at the confirmation stage are just that, and any changes by either party is a breach of those agreements.

We are also full time sitters and hate conflict, but in order to do this both full time and long term, we’ve had to learn from our mistakes and advocate for ourselves when HOs try to change things post confirmation.

As for paying bills, I would simply decline and tell them they are welcome to look for other sitters. Odds are they will not want to do that, but it’s a risk I’d be willing to take.

For date changes, it all depends on our circumstances. We had HOs who kept adding days on at the end and we approved the first two and then reminded them that we had booked nonrefundable accommodation and so we couldn’t continue extending.

For misleading dogs/animals, we’ve had it happen, and it’s tricky. We ended up sucking it up, but if it were to happen again, we would have canceled after the meet up, stating that their dog required much more care, attention and training than a house exchange situation would cover and refer them to a paid service.

All this to say, you gotta advocate for yourself, or you will get burnt out and resentful.

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That is certainly a very different sit to the one you agreed to! It’s reassuring to know that THS helped so that the host cancelled- meaning your reviews wouldn’t have been impacted. I’m assuming you would have been able to use the cancellation insurance too in that scenario (although I think it’s a fairly new thing).

Completely agree about flexibility being an asset. As there are two of us, we can usually manage a night or two. We’ve had situations where HOs return a week early or ask us to arrive two weeks earlier, and that can be stressful as we worry our review would be impacted or we would lose the sit if we say no.

Such wise words! We need to get better at this as we’ve had some very stressful housesits. Do you worry that your review would be impacted if you decline to pay bills?

If someone actually left me a negative review for not paying bills I would think it would reflect more negatively on them than on me. We have lots of five star reviews so I would hope any future HOs would ask about that outlying review and I would explain what happened.

I would also make sure any conversation we had regarding these things was done through THS so there is a record that this request was made AFTER the sit was confirmed. That way, if you do need a paper trail, you have one.

It was well before there was any cancellation insurance available @second_star!