Hi everyone, when I first joined a couple of months ago I applied for probably 8-10 sits. I got 3 of them that I accepted and got declined by the others. I have since done the first (month long) sit and it went great. I came away with my first review and it was 5 stars ! A couple of days ago I got a message from one of the homeowners who had initially declined my application, saying that the sitter fell through and asked if I was still interested. I quickly said yes. BUT……when I went back to the listing there were some red flags for me. Sit had several sitters and most of them left no review. There were hardly any interior pictures of the house and the exterior pictures showed a rather unkempt yard. This sit would have me traveling, so it’s not like it would have been just a weekend of dealing with whatever was there. I messaged that it didn’t work out with my schedule. Here is my question-should I have just directly asked about the lack of reviews and lack of photos? Am I alone in wanting to know where I am going to sleep, cook and just exactly what I’m getting into? I am new so I would appreciate some feedback. Thanks!
There is no need to tell her your reasons for declining. It might result in an angry response and I wouldn’t enter into any of that seeing as you wouldn’t feel comfortable sitting for them anyway.
How long was the sit for? I think for longer ones it’s even more important to check that everything feels right. I am currently on a long sit and there are some issues, relatively minor but it has taught be to be even more discerning before I accept sits.
Trust your instincts. If something seems off then just decline. I’ve been learning through experience over this past year. You definitely want to know where you are going to sleep, shower, cook. After a couple surprises, I’ve learned to ask if I will be sleeping in an actual bed and not a sofabed or futon.
Hi @Jts125 ! Welcome to the forum, glad you posted! You’ve been really successful to have gotten three sits in just a couple of months. Kudos!
I agree that it’s important to trust your gut, but unless it was black and white, I would have had no qualms about asking about the previous sitters. A question I have begun asking at my initial interview is, If you’ve ever had a sit that didn’t go well, what about it didn’t go well?
I also ask what kind of bed the sitter will have and important for me, what kind of window coverings, if any, are on the bedroom windows, especially if there is no photo of the bedroom. I applied to a sit that had no inside pictures, I asked about them and the owner emailed me photos. The house was actually very interesting and unique.
You don’t have to tell reasons for declining. Just respond - “could you please give me more information about the home, where I would be sleeping etc? More photos of both the interior and exterior would also be helpful.”
Hi @Jts125 there’s a separate thread in which a sitter was wondering about asking for a video tour, to which I say, absolutely - especially if there aren’t enough photos.
I’d do this rather than ask why there aren’t more. I see the lack of photos not as a signal something is wrong necessarily; it may be a great potential sit, just a poorly done listing. In any case, a video tour would let you see more than photos anyway.
Reviews are a little different. It may be that previous sitters didn’t have great experiences, or it may be that they couldn’t be bothered to leave a review (sad but I’m sure happens).
The lack of reviews is understandably a concern for sitters. But from what I have seen, this doesn’t necessarily indicate the experience was bad.
I have seen sits where the same sitter shows up twice, with neither sit being reviewed. Chances are if they came back, the experience couldn’t have been too terrible.
I have seen instances where the sitter replied to the owner’s review with a lot of positive feedback about their experience that you could tell was genuine, but didn’t leave direct feedback.
I have seen sits where the vast majority of sitters didn’t leave a review but the few that did spoke very highly of the experience in a way you could tell was genuine, and not just a ‘saying something nice to protect myself’ way. These listings in particular make me think in the vast majority of cases, the lack of review is not due to the sit being really bad, but the sitter forgetting to leave feedback, just deciding not to, not realizing how important it is, or maybe not knowing they were able to.
It’s unfortunate if sitters aren’t leaving feedback, because understandably, many will err on the side of caution, and pass up a sit, even if it might be a great experience.
I think that if a sit seems appealing to a sitter, they shouldn’t automatically decide not to apply because of lack of reviews. Apply, and if the owner expresses interest in connecting, arrange an interview and ask whatever you think you would need to ask to feel comfortable accepting. Then see how it feels.
Lots of sitters who haven’t left reviews is a definite red flag for us. As is a lack of interior photos - I believe they are meant to have a picture of the bedroom and bathroom as a minimum. I am also always wary of sits that have photos showing unmade beds and cluttered rooms or kitchens with dirty dishes - if they couldn’t tidy up for a photo it makes me think that what you will find when they are packing to leave will be worse.
Also if a sitter leaves a sit early because of issues there is no record of this and no review can be left so a lack of a negative reviews does not mean everything is ok. Go with your instincts.
Early on in sitting, I wouldn’t have asked those questions, but now with some experience with THS behind me I would have said something like…'thanks for reaching out and I am interested but I would have to do a video chat so I can see the house since interior pictures are lacking AND I am concerned why you haven’t received any reviews.
If we are interested in a sit but it has too few photos and/or no, or few, feedbacks we always (do our research and) check to see what kind of reviews the host gave. If they were all positive and some of the sitters had also responded to the review (rather than leave feedback) we would apply. However we would always ask to see more pics- especially the bedroom (& to know bed size,) and bathroom, living areas for sitter etc. So many hosts don’t post these pics so we also tell them its not personal- we just always ask- because even if pet care is our priority we also want to know where we will live & sleep!
We also always ask why they have missing feedbacks. Did anything go wrong? Did they just forget to ask for feedback? If there is no feedback AND no review that is a paticular red flag.
We’ve just agreed a sit where there has been only one sitter so far (a month ago) with no feedback or review. Normally we might just scroll on but this was a particularly useful gap filler and looked like a great sit too! So we applied and asked the Q- she responded right away that everything had gone great but that she and the sitter had been more focused on tracking a missing delivery & had just forgotten. I hope that is true! As we’ve told her reviews are super important for us and we will be expecting one, and will give feedback too.
I think its ok to ask anything and everything!! The longer the sit the more you need to know its a good fit. We are less fussy with short sits and or gap fillers! E.g a smaller bed is manageable for us on shorter sits, if a few days, but for longer sits we need a big bed or a second available bedroom. One host who usually offers their small double bedroom to sitters offered us their super king size bed as an inventive to sit for them! In a contrary situation we found ourselves on a week long sit with a truly terrible, small, bed- without a topper- so you could feel all the springs poking in your back! After the first horror night we found a spare single mattress in the garage and set that up in a spare, office, room so we could sleep separately. Meanwhile the hosts had a gorgeous comfortable super king bed which they had not offered…
Some hosts prefer to offer the best bed in the house (usually their own) while others offer the guest bedroom…all fine but they should at least make sure the spare bed is good and has a decent mattress!!
Welcome @Jts125. You did the right thing. I’m currently on my 12th sit since I joined just under a year ago and at first I accepted a couple of less than ideal sits including one with no cooking facilities or fridge! And another one that left me to pill one of her twin cats but forgot to explain how to tell them apart as it was a blind handover!
Now I ask lots more questions.
As someone who’s been doing this for almost 6 years, I usually avoid sits with no photos of the sleep room and the bathroom for the sitter, unless the review are great. I know some owners are very private, but wish TH would require the owners to post photos of the rooms. Of course, even photos are not always reliable. And I’ve had a few sits, where I had to spend hours cleaning before settling in. On the other hand, I did take a sit once with no interior photos, and was great. After a video call, I could see some interior and got a feeling for the place.
As suggested by others I would offer a video call prior to accepting a sit and ask if they could show you where you would be sleeping, if no photos were posted. If they decline to take you on a video tour, then trust your instincts .
I would say that a lack of photos would be a red flag. I once asked a homeowner for photo of bedroom and a few other places in the home they came over all stroppy. seemed to be they had something to hide. I would not worry too much over lack of reviews, especially if over the more covid period.
Two sits I was meant to be doing were cancelled, due to home owners suddenly not being able to travel. However the sits stayed on the books and I was asked to request a review and leave feedback but obviously did not respond, as had not done the sits. I am sure there must be many more like this.
I would always be wary of a lack of photos though, especially if lots of the pets but hardly any of the property and rooms, especially bedroom and outside space.
On the whole that’s wise advice but we’ve taken a chance on two dodgy looking listings - one last year and one this year - scruffy photos, no room pics, out of focus, all animals - and they were both wonderful. They were great sunshine, beach/countryside locations for a few weeks at a time with 5/6 pets for both - we did the video call and asked for bedroom and bathroom photos before committing plus their other feedback was amazing and it all worked out brilliantly. We also told the HOs gently that they needed better pics
As a new sitter it makes a lot of sense to learn from others experience. I tend to jump in with both feet especially if I do a video call with HO and there’s a great vibe. However I’ve learnt even if there’s are photos it can hide other troublesome issues like a place that’s not really clean has lots of animal hair, human hair etc (I’m not a clean freak) but I’ve sat in a place that was bug infested and due to poor lighting it doesn’t look all that bad. I got bitten and only noticed it when I left when I mentioned to HO she acted non chalantly. 6 months later I still have a mark!
I would suggest THS suggest to HO that they get a professional cleaner to make sure it’s done to a higher standard.
We m very fastidious and end up doing alit of housekeeping just to bring it up to a reasonable standard since I will be living in the place for a few weeks or longer.
Dog owners tend to forget how much hair dogs shed.
Do your due diligence and let’s try to higher the standards for the HS.
By all means, feel free to ask for more information and take it from there - but, it is appropriate to do this BEFORE you accept the sit. It’s not really okay to accept, and then have second thoughts about the details that were there all along.