The Terms and Conditions were updated 8th June 2023. I don’t have a copy of what they were prior to that so it may not have been applicable prior to that. If anyone has a copy of the T&C prior to 8th June 2023, that would be interesting to know.
The obligation to pay for damages and vet bills has been in since at least 2018, maybe earlier. This was between the sitter and THS though so if you didn’t pay and the damage wasn’t repaired or the animal not treated the worst you could expect is getting booted by THS.
Some time after December 2020 and now (I don’t have any copies between December 2020 and the most recent) the added into section 2 that section 5.2 and 5.3 was also between sitter and owner so in that case they could argue you breached an agreement and chase for costs (I expect in the event the animal worsened due to lack of treatment or the house was further damaged because the initial problem wasn’t fixed.
This is all a bit clunky on the part of THS and it all expects you to contact the owner first anyway so once you have made contact you can arrange for them to pay. In reality I don’t see a situation where you would have to pay unless you chose to. You will always be able to contact the owner and they will always be able to transfer money. And if there is a delay in them responding that’s on them. You can always get the repairman to bill them directly or just wait saying you don’t have the money available yourself.
In my experience you are far, far more likely to be out of pocket because an owner cancelled a sit and you’re left holding plane tickets that can’t be refunded or having to pay for hotels or airbnb.
Which I find ludicrous for a number of reasons… “Hey, read a listing and speak to the owner… then confirm first before you find out alllllllllllll the things some people don’t tell you until you read the owner’s manual and cancelling the sit will look bad on you”.
I’ve been lucky to not have any big surprises, but man some of the examples given here of things found out in Welcome Guides… oof.
Can you provide the exact verbiage of those earlier T&C you are referencing? While it can’t change anything, it would be interesting to know and confirm.
Further to my losing the USA sitting I wrote to Membership Services with a few questions. I did receive a prompt response but it just included the usual generic response. My payment for damages query was ignored, focusing on the vet issue.
I was advised that “nothing would change but where possible, we will always apply a human touch and common sense to individual cases” but then went on to state:
We would advise that if any parts of the terms and conditions you are not happy with, then have a conversation with the home owner prior and agree between you both what would and wouldn’t be expected to pay for and have the owner sign this.
As if that is going to happen!!!
Wayback machine has the 2018 one here:
I’m not really sure what they are referring to here. They have specifically excepted themselves from any agreement between owner and mentioned to others that have queried that they are unable to intervene between owner and sitter. Perhaps they are talking about whether they will kick you off the site if you don’t pay for repairs or vets bills.
That stinks you have to cancel the sit. But you may have dodged a bullet on that one. In my personal opinion, any HO who would read that ,and insist on actually holding the sitter to those terms, rather than arrange to leave a credit card or some other way to handle the payment in their absence-whether with the sitter or a trusted person nearby–, strikes me as someone I would not want to sit for.
That they prefer to place that burden on the sitter–even after hearing their very legitimate concerns about it --and believe the sitters are more responsible for costs related to their own pets and property than themselves–is a red flag for sure. The whole idea behind that clause is about the sitter not being able to get in touch with the HO for payment information. By discussing this beforehand, that problem can easily be avoided, and I would be suspect of any HO who wasn’t willing to offer the solution.
In my almost 10 years of sitting, I have maybe laid out costs for minor expenses a handful of times and have been reimbursed very promptly. There were a couple of times a small scale home repair was needed and the HOs took care of the payment over the phone.
I imagine it is quite rare for a sitter to have to foot huge bills for vet care or home repairs, and even rarer that if they have, the HO didn’t reimburse them. And it seems like THS is using the rarity of these instances to justify keeping it in. Like…yeah it’s not really fair but it probably won’t affect you so don’t worry about it.
We have no idea about other people’s financial situations and even people that appear to have a lot of money could be leveraged to the hilt for all we know. What if you authorize a vet expense they would normally just throw on their credit card because they don’t have the money? Even if a HO wanted to pay the sitter back they might not be able to.
Again, based on my almost decade of sitting, I don’t think this will become some pervasive problem, but it really is a problematic clause.
This seems unfair and unlikely to result in the sitter not being made whole. I had a vet situation this summer on my first UK sit. Luckily, I was able to reach the HO and they arranged credit card payment with the vet before I arrived. I did have to pay for Uber/cab fare and was promptly reimbursed by the HO. They even provided a glowing review on how I handled the situation. I do see how that could have gone sideways though. Grateful I had a wonderful HO. But what if that hadn’t been the case…
Thank you for the earlier version. I’m shocked I missed that before about both damages and vet payments.
Going forward I plan to clarify those things in writing with the Pet Parent, probably with a one-page addendum to assure the best care of the pets and property in a fair and equitable manner.
THS has said basically it doesn’t happen that often so what’s the big deal. If I can’t reach the Pet parent and have to make a life-or-death decision about a pet that may cost thousands of dollars and the Pet Parent says they would not have authorized it, would have euthanized the pet, or would have wanted other actions taken, that puts me in a very bad situation. Because it doesn’t happen often is exactly why you want to clarify things in advance.
Our last 3 sits were in the UK and all of the Pet Parents went to Australia on holiday! As you can imagine, expecting immediate or even prompt contact with the Pet Parents was not realistic.
No solution is perfect but something like the following might be appropriate and fair.
In order to provide the best care for the pet(s) and property and prevent misunderstandings, this is prepared to clarify expectations, agreements and requirements for both the Sitter(s) and Pet Parent(s) …
As it does not seem fair for payments to be made by the Sitter and later seek reimbursement from the Pet Parent, the following are agreed to by the Sitter and Pet Parent.
It is hoped that the Sitter will be able to contact the Pet Parent so the Pet Parent can communicate directly with the veterinarian (vet) should pet care be needed. To be prepared in the event the Sitter cannot reach the Pet Parent when the pet(s) may need medical care, the Pet Parent will make arrangements in advance for vet care and emergency vet care including:
• all payment arrangements. Sitter is not expected or required to make any payments to a vet or emergency vet.
• all care instructions, including acceptable costs. These should be given to the vet and/or in writing to the Sitter. That allows the vet to make decisions regarding the care given to the pet(s).
• all contact information given to Sitter for the vet and emergency vet – i.e. a vet that can be reached 24/7.
Regarding the property, Pet Parent will make arrangements in advance for emergencies such as water breaks, trees falling on the home, etc. Such arrangements might include who Sitter should contact and how, letting your property insurance company know the Sitter will be there and authorizing Sitter to speak with them and approve work, etc.
Of course, Sitter will immediately seek to contact Pet Parent regarding any damage done to the property so the Pet Parent can handle things in their desired manner. Sitter has no obligation to make any payments for any repairs for damage not caused by Sitter.
Putting something like that in the T&C would make much more sense than what is currently in place.
Insane! Would definitely not sit for an HO who explicitly insists on this in their Welcome Guide but it certainly is a worrying development. I usually do NOT see the HOs when they return home - so good luck getting any reimbursement.
KC1102 that is a really important point that you make that often people don’t have the funds available for large unexpected expenses and would put them on their credit card. As you state they then wouldn’t have the funds to reimburse a sitter who had paid a bill as they couldn’t use their credit. I hadn’t even thought of that scenario.
I should add that I won’t be paying those expenses up front regardless of THS policy.
Exactly. I wouldn’t lament “losing” a sit like this.
@belluca Yeah. To have an actual discussion about it and say we are not willing to provide a means of payment for problems that are completely our responsibility, and it will be on you to cover it. Weird to me.
Worst case they could draw money from their credit card and pay the cash advance charges and interest and send you the money.
But realistically no large bill should be needed to be paid before you have had a chance to make contact. Even if they are 12 hours out an expensive vet bill would require the pet staying in at least one night before payment was due, a large house repair would take days for the repairmen to start/finish the job. The owner could pay over the phone using their credit card
Ooof, I’d not been aware this detail was so stark and badly sided (I’ve, of course, ready all relevant info but that doesn’t mean over a couple years it doesn’t get blurry on things that don’t normally come up lol!).
As everything in the THS policies is essentially worded as suggestions/expectations rather than firm legal rules making every sit exchange a solid contract (depending on where you are and to what extent that applies) I’m afraid this maybe something HOs and HSs need to put into written agreement themselves (again, your local laws may vary, many places like where I am from this constitutes a legally binding contract). A short PDF on how emergencies and payments thereof can be made up and exchanged online to get signatures and then saved by both parties.
As this covers what both halves of the exchanges are willing to agree to and expect it’s not at all rude or unreasonable. Both a HO and Sitter should feel sure that it has been mutually, clearly and legally agreed upon as to what they can expect their Sitter to do if something happens and how any details will be dealt with after.
Unfortunately, it’s becoming a lot of “when THS avoids making something a binding agreement but rather an expectation or something totally one-sided HOs and HSs have to work it out themselves”.
Shame, as T&S/policies should be written as binding an beneficial to all three parties - Owners, Sitters, and THS.
Worst case is: even if the owners were honest and willing to reimburse that doesn’t mean they have the money to pay the sitter back. In the US, at least, fewer and fewer people have easy access to suddenly pull potentially thousands of dollars by credit or cash.
A sitter could end up thousands of dollars in debt for a HO emergency event that the HO would’ve been incapable of covering themselves had they been the ones there or have no ability to pay back a sitter though they want to.
And then there are cases when the emergency is immediate and one has to rely on the HO being willing and able to reimburse. I’ve had a pet emergency while home that meant a $10+k surgery as fast as they could open him… If I’d not been the one home, didn’t have the set understanding with my vet for approval to such, and their trust that I’d pay as soon as I was reachable a sitter not being able to reach me for 5 hours or such because I’d been out swimming or something would’ve ended in my having a dead pet or a sitter paying $10+k and in sheer hope I was honest enough and had the access to enough to reimburse them.
While rare, those things do happen. As well as for major medical bills or repair work often a deposit is required before care/work starts even if main payment is made later… especially if they know the HO isn’t the one there to pay the bill and may be unreliable to them.
As sits occur in various countries and states, each with their own laws, an enfoceable legal contract - or one you’d even try to enforce - regarding such things is next to impossible.
Things just need to be fair and clearly spelled out. That’s why I start my possible statement of understanding which I posted a few posts back as follows:
“In order to provide the best care for the pet(s) and property and prevent misunderstandings, this is prepared to clarify expectations, agreements and requirements for both the Sitter(s) and Pet Parent(s) …”
Rather than a cold “sign this” the reason is clear - to benefit everyone, the pets and the property. I haven’t used it yet but will be doing so later.
So far, it has not been a problem for me to have this disclaimer in my profile. I had two applications accepted since I added this “about” section (and both other applications just disappeared in the mist of time without getting declined).
The HOs did not ask about it. I see in their WG that they have vet accounts set up.
I have not been asked about the three stars in my latest review either. Maybe some sitters are fretting too much about that kind of thing.
I think it’s probably just a cultural thing, I’m Canadian and we are quite a bit less direct than some Europeans.
I’d be fine with it coming up in conversation and it wouldn’t be an issue as I agree that the terms are off and I always leave a card on file with the vet anyway, but seeing it laid out so bluntly in the profile would be a red flag for me. That said - since you aren’t applying for my sit, it doesn’t matter, and I’m glad it’s not getting in the way for you!