THS imbalance of power

I have met some really lovely, generous people and wonderful pets on this site. I also think many of the sitters have experienced feeling like the home owners are the main priority for THS. We both pay for this service, but we aren’t given equal consideration. HOs have the ability to anonymously “vote” whether or not they’d invite the sitter back, whereas we struggle to leave honest reviews of people without hurting their feelings. We are required to put our personal information at risk now so that the home owners can feel more secure.

I think this site is just set up to prioritize the needs of home owners because they have always had way more pet sitters so they could just get away with treating them as second class because someone would still apply for the sit. But I feel like this entire site is ripping us off considering a lot of these sits are more like jobs (esp. with covid era pets needing constant attention). There’s already a power imbalance with staying in someone else’s home. You can arrive and the place isn’t clean, the welcome guide prohibits visitors, etc. In my current sit, the listing said the entire house would be available and yet the welcome guide told me I’d only have access to the small, barren guest bedroom and bath. I understand that we signed up for this but I wish I’d known more how imbalanced it feels in practice. It just doesn’t seem like sitter needs are heard and valued. I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts regarding this.

I wish that the site would allow HOs to offer compensation for certain sits. Some of these sits are fair trades, others are jobs and should be paid imo. I think it could make the less appealing jobs get more traction. But I doubt THS would consider this bc it could make the site less attractive to home owners, even the ones who could very easily afford it.

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I can see your points but i’m not sure i really agree with some of them. If a listing requires more than you’re willing to do - don’t apply for it. It’s easy to self-select out. If the listing said the whole house is available and the guide says it isn’t, speak up and tell them it’s not what you agreed to. You have to advocate for yourself.

The payment thing, aside from going against the ethos of the site, opens up a huge can of legal worms when it comes to taxation, employment rights, etc. It would be a bit of a nightmare to set up.

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I totally agree with what @CreatureCuddler has pointed out. I’ll add that you have a wide range of options for house sitting sites, including ones where you can charge for your services. THS does not have a monopoly. You may want to consider one that better suits your requirements and preferences.

I am a sitter on another house sitting site. Yesterday I had their new listings email - six sits, four of which had no photos whatsoever, and one that had photos of the pets only. The listings also had minimal information, compared to THS. Each time I get their email, it makes me more grateful for the clarity of information in THS listings. Yes, I would like to see changes, but I also realize I can’t have everything all my own way (although I try :slightly_smiling_face:).

This is my personal opinion.

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I agree with @Snowbird, it looks like THS is not the right site for you. And that’s ok, plenty of other sites available.

I am a full-time sitter and have never felt like “second-class”. I apply for sits that look like a good exchange, the ones that don’t, I scroll further and move on.

I agree that some things, like the review system, should urgently change, but I yet have to find a site that offers as many sits in as many different countries, so I definitely do not feel "ripped-off- in any way

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I don’t agree and, as a sitter feel treated equally with home hosts. The site is not perfect but trying to please so many people is never going to work all the time.

I see this as a simple question ( not a vote) - I’d be interested to know how ( if at all) the answers are acted upon and agree that sitters should be asked the same question to keep things fair.

Home hosts have exactly the same problem - I agree the review system let’s the site down but it is an issue that applies to both sitters and home hosts equally.

We don’t have to apply for sits that we don’t want to. However, for the price of a nights stay in a hotel we have access to thousands of listings all over the world - there really is something for everyone - I would call it a bargain not being ripped off

To be honest if that was me I would have pointed this out to the home host and withdrawn my offer to sit on that basis.

I’m sure home owners could easily come up with a list of why the balance of power falls on the side of the sitter but in my opinion, we are all equal and this ‘them and us’ mentality is helpful to no one.

On the whole, THS is great. As I said previously it is not perfect and hopefully issues we bring up will be acted on to improve the site - but those improvements will be for us all , not just ‘them’ or ‘us’.

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Well said @Colin , and as always, in such a respectful and non-confrontational manner.

@ilovedogs , you make the following statement:

I don’t know of any member, myself included, who has access to the data concerning membership numbers for homeowners and sitters. I am puzzled as to how you can therefore say “they [THS] have always had way more pet sitters”. Sadly, you are not alone on this forum in making accusations without being able to support them with accurate data. It is my hope that members think twice before making unsubstantiated statements.

This is my personal position and opinion.

As a new member today, @ilovedogs , I do welcome you to this community, where members support each other and share information that can make us all grow and be better at what we do, both as sitters and homeowners.

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We have been requested, by the author, to close this post …

Thank you

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I have been a member of this site for many years now and with the exception of one sit, all my experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. As for the one sit in question, I had some reservations going in based on communications with the owner but I did it anyway because in many ways I thought it would be an interesting experience and it was–middle of the Costa Rican jungle totally uplugged with very basic living, lots of inner work accomplished. So when issues did arise I wasn’t surprised and just took it all in stride. I took ownership of my choice to do a sit that I wasn’t fully confident would go smoothly.

While this certainly isn’t the case for ALL sitters having bad experiences, I notice a common thread on here in the stories many of them share: There was some sense of not feeling totally confident in taking the assignment but then doing it anyway and having their suspicions confirmed.

This was either a general intuitive sense that was more ‘vague,’ or feeling uncomfortable with specific aspects of the sit ,or the owner, from the get go, or as new information comes to light after accepting.

I think these situations often arise from a tendency to let fear and attachments drive decision making–they really want to be in a specific area, the sit is very convenient for their schedule, they want to minimize costs of paying for accommodation, they are afraid other opportunities won’t come along and the like, and feel a self-imposed pressure to take on sits that might not be a good fit.

There are so many opportunities on here and there is absolutely no reason to take a sit that you don’t feel totally good about, there is no reason to stick to an assignment after confirming if the owner starts contradicting things they originally said, start asking for things that seem unreasonable, or request things that totally change the landscape of the assignment in ways you wouldn’t have agreed to originally. If a listing doesn’t seem appealing, don’t apply.

I commend the site for trying to step up their game and be more than just a middleman connecting sitters and owners–the background checks, the forum, the willingness of membership services to try and mediate disputes and what not.

But unless THS decides to become a house sitting agency that contracts with sitters whom they personally interview, directly facilitates matches between owners and sitters and the like, at the core, this is what they will essentially remain and expectations need to be adjusted to reflect this reality.

Unless they employ people all over the world to verify the state of someone’s home, the accuracy of the photos or whether the owner has cleaned up before the sitter arrives, people could possibly end up in less than desirable environments. I personally have never been in a house that wasn’t as clean as the photos suggested, and that is one thing I really look out for.

Both owners and sitters take some degree of ‘risk’ by inviting strangers into their home, and going to live in the home of strangers. I don’t really have any expectation from the site to offer me any sort of significant ‘protection’ from this reality.

If there are true problem sitters or owners they can remove them from the site and that’s great. But that is not something that can be discovered until the actual sits take place. Again, some risk involved.

The sitters are not employees for which the site has any true, legal responsibility. The site is not directly providing owners the sitters–they are responsible for picking someone on their own. The site can offer background checks and other forms of verification to increase confidence in the process ,but anyone, barring failing the checks, can join so long as they pay.

If you look at the site for what it is truly designed to be, it’s great I think most problems people have stem from unrealistic expectations. The only complaint I believe has any real merit are the issues with the review system, and I have no doubt whatever they come up with will also have elements about which people will complain!

Everyone is here by their own choice and if they are unhappy with certain aspects of how the site operates, they don’t have to use it.

I imagine this prospect is not appealing for many sitters because no other site even comes close to the number of listings on offer, and probably serves as their main source of bookings. This of course was why so many people were upset about the new background check rules, which I imagine many did anyway, even if very begrudingly!

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This topic is now closed … thank you.