Where SHOULD sitters be asking "important" questions to get answers?

I posted this as a real question hoping for real answers, even tagging the appropriate parties who could give them, but none of them have replied, even though it’s over a week old.

Dirty houses - #4 by MissChef

And here’s one that’s 5 days old, but still no replies?

Fear of making an honest 'negative' review - #202 by Angela-CommunityManager

Can we please get answers?

Granted, those of us who are sitters on this forum are just a subset of the whole population of sitters, so we’re self-selected, but what’s the company policy? How often does it have to happen before it reaches a tipping point? Does TH have a contingency plan for the sitter to be in a clean, safe environment, regardless of whether the home’s photos and the HO’s conversation are …misrepresented?

Based on the posts here, it doesn’t seem to be that rare, and occurs whether sitters are novices or experienced. And when it does happen, it’s traumatic, as several users can attest: A quick survey looking for a keyword got posts from (see list below) …and of course, @claresitsdogs, and @CanadianSitter & @Charlotte also had really horrendous situations. :frowning:

I’m hoping for good communication on here, not just “work in progress” or “currently researching the subject” or claims of it being “a top priority” or “there is no definite time set for any of the … changes as yet.” or other more of the same.

As @smiley says in Fear of making an honest 'negative' review - #139 by Smiley or as i said in Fear of making an honest 'negative' review - #187 by MissChef

I appreciate @Snowbird 's sentiment:

Question re age - #15 by Snowbird

and I hope that it’s true that “Change often comes about from THS hearing our opinions.” and I guess I’m seeking evidence of that. `

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P. S. “not rare” = The system won’t even let me tag the names I collected, because there are so many… and these still aren’t all of them:

@Lokstar @MissisE @HappySunflower @colin @els @Lainey @carpediem16 @DMcat @Loplop @Rubos

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If it’s urgent, maybe DM one of them directly?

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it’s not urgent NOW, but it’s going to be really urgent when I’m knocking on someone’s door and deciding I’m not going to cross that threshold. (that’s the point of my original question first link in the post)

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Probably repeating myself, but I think you are asking and expecting an awful lot of THS for your small annual membership fee.

THS is not a pet-sitting agency, it has a list of Home and pet owners and a list of house sitters.

It allows each to contact the other to mutually agree on an exchange.

It is a small organisation, operating worldwide, but with most staff located in the UK, so time zones need to be considered.

The Forum is a reasonably new concept, just over a year old, and manned by @Angela-CommunityManager and @Vanessa-Admin with help from @Snowbird. There are about 4000 Forum members, which is a very small percentage of THS members (5%?) and most do not spend a lot of time on the Forum - so if you tag someone, they may reply the same day, but most of us are out there travelling or looking after pets.

I have had a look at your profile, and you appear to be a professional adult with a lot of experience with people, and I am surprised that you expect someone else to help you, make a decision for you, if/when you decide “you are not going to cross that threshold”

Now I’m off the beach with the dog. I may check in again in a couple of days, or maybe next weekend.

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Yes. I agree to go to a home and watch people’s pets, but not at the risk of my health, safety, or sanity. So when I show up and the home is as filthy as @claresitsdogs experienced, you seem to agree that it’s OK for sitters to just walk off.

Do I get ‘punished’ by TH for not keeping up my end of the agreement?

Am I just supposed to absorb the travel expenses and possibly have to stay in a hotel for a night or more until I can get transportation back home because someone else can’t understand how to keep up their half of the “mutually beneficial exchange”?

ok my dude but it’s been over a week.

Hi @MissChef I’m assuming from your post and having tagged me that it’s relative to a question regarding the review system and if asked by members the advice is always to be fair, respectful and non personal. We do not influence any member regarding their decision to give reviews or feedback nor do we remove any reviews/feedback unless there is an official challenge, which is upheld on investigation, or a direct request by the author. If a member breaks the Code Of Conduct, only when an official complaint is raised is the situation investigated.

Do we discuss reviews/incidents/member’s issues publicly, no and I would doubt that any member would expect that to happen.

We have stated numerous times that the review system is under review and when there is any significant updates members will be informed.

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Thanks for all that, but that’s not what was talking about, (and i feel that perhaps you didn’t read what i linked to?) so I’ll post what i asked again here:

at what point is the “agreement” between HO and sitter “breached” to the extent that the sitter can reject the situation after arriving and not agree to begin the sit?

and, following up, what if anything is in place when everything goes haywire, is the sitter really just left stranded?

We will also be very happy to hear from members who have positive questions requiring positive answers …

As @Petermac pointed out this forum has been active for one year the more members we have joining and becoming active the greater the benefit for everyone but for that to happen our space needs to be a hive of positive activity, that’s not to say there shouldn’t be honest and open discussions about all issues but there is so much to celebrate about our community and amazing lifestyle and you don’t have to look far to find it … but you wont unless you look! Focus on what you don’t have and you will never have enough.

We have a passionate and caring team working hard behind the scenes to make our product the best it can be much of that takes time, meanwhile there are thousands of happy pets around the world tonight with their loving sitters and with everyone blessing the day they found TrustedHousesitters … our team help make that happen.

I started a new sit with one of my favorite pets today, (I know we shouldn’t have favorites but he’s just so cute, as they all are) his pet parents are very special too and make me feel welcome and part of this family … we have a very special community let’s reach out and touch more pets, people and places with our uniqueness and caring spirit.

Thanks everyone and if you are waiting for chocolate have a very Happy Easter.

Angela and the Team

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@MissChef Membership Services will pick this up when they are back online @Therese-Moderator @Lucy-Moderator

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@MissChef I’m just catching up on your post, which was started a mere three hours ago. Sadly, it contains a stream of negativity, which truly disheartens me. As I next catch up on other posts during that time, I hope that this is the exception. In the countless hours I have spent on this forum, learning, sharing, and helping others, I will repeat a statement I made to another forum member, who chose to focus on the imperfections, instead of the many joys of being a part of this community. To that person, I said:

THS does not have a monopoly. You may want to consider one that better suits your requirements and preferences.

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Yes. I agree to go to a home and watch people’s pets, but not at the risk of my health, safety, or sanity. So when I show up and the home is as filthy as @claresitsdogs experienced, you seem to agree that it’s OK for sitters to just walk off.

Yes - we are all adults here,

Do I get ‘punished’ by TH for not keeping up my end of the agreement?

No - if the situation is bad - see adults above.

Am I just supposed to absorb the travel expenses and possibly have to stay in a hotel for a night or more until I can get transportation back home because someone else can’t understand how to keep up their half of the “mutually beneficial exchange”?

Yes - that’s life.

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Good morning MissChef and I’m going to give you my “real” answer, not as an employee of TrustedHousesitters but as someone who has benefitted from this community of pet lovers and house sitters over the past decade. Like many others who have lived this as a full-time lifestyle, we’ve learned together, shared together and overcome the occasional difficulties that arise. We’ve seen pet sitting companies come and go. Different models, different platforms, but all with the end result to provide a win-win-win for owners, sitters and most of all the pets.

These companies can’t provide every solution to every scenario (situations as diverse as life itself). But for the small annual membership, as Petermac says, they do a pretty good job of facilitating a connection between two parties where the responsibility then lies with those two parties to create the best outcome they can. I always say it’s a bit like a dating agency. A framework is provided, which may not be viewed as totally perfect because everyone has subtly different requirements. But it’s up to you to make the relationship work within the parameters provided. How well that relationship works depends on how much responsibility you take for your own actions as responsible adults. Of course a service company can provide guidelines but it’s highly unlikely any company that works with the public will provide perfect solutions for every one of their customers.

And let’s maybe reflect on what a forum is… it’s a place for public discussion where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged. It isn’t an extension of the support department where privacy is a key issue, and it isn’t an extension of the product and member experience departments. It’s a place where we can share our house sit experiences, mentor people new to house and pet sitting, explore ideas and give feedback and make suggestions. But at the end of the day if you make a suggestion and it isn’t widely accepted or implemented, that’s a decision that the wider team will make based on extensive research and analysis of statistics and outcomes. For every decision made that some will not favour, there are always a larger proportion who do. I don’t agree with every decision as a sitter but I do appreciate that the decision has been made based on good research and data analysis. The fact that TrustedHousesitters continues to survive and grow given the global travel disruption forced upon it by a pandemic is testament to the experience of the wider team and company leadership.

So yes, sometimes you might not get an instant response from a transient community, or from community managers who have other responsibilities as well as their part-time forum moderation. You might not get the instant results you want from the wider team who interact not only with the small number of members represented here in the forum, but also with other members who give their feedback privately. Yes occasionally, (and it is a minority among the many many thousands of members), there will be a sit with a less than perfect outcome, or challenges that are outside anyone’s control, but if you focus on these always you will only see negativity and you risk missing out on all the amazing positivity that this lifestyle provides so many. The saddening result of this is that a negative environment discourages others from participating in our community. That’s not good for any of us.

In over 125 house sits we’ve had only a couple of sits with less than perfect outcomes. I believe that’s because we’ve learned, questioned, and asked the difficult questions when forming our house sitting relationships. We haven’t relied on others to create our “perfect” outcome. One of our sits (not through THS) was one of the worst most stressful sits and people encounters we have ever experienced. We could focus on that and the shortcomings of the agency involved but that would have overshadowed the 120+ other sits that have provided the joy we’ve experienced ever since.

As responsible adults we have always looked to ourselves to answer the difficult questions, to deal with the less favourable outcomes, as we do with any situation in life.

I am saddened by the negativity that is perpetuated in some of the forum threads for many reasons, but mostly because as Angela says, “there are thousands of happy pets around the world tonight with their loving sitters and with everyone blessing the day they found TrustedHousesitters”

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Thank you @Vanessa-Admin I could not have said that better myself …

Ditto to our 200 sits and 11 years of living the dream … with one or two insignificant hiccups now a memory dealt with, done and with no lasting damage.

Thank you :heart_eyes:

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As someone who has had a couple negative experiences, none of them were the fault or responsibility of THS. It just is what it is and it’s a risk you take. When I accept a sit, I accept the risks associated with that sit. If I arrive and it’s not what I agreed to then I work with the HO to solve it or I involve THS to mediate. But if I choose to leave, for any reason, that is my choice and my cost to cover. It’s all part of doing business for me.

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I think the problem here is that ‘rare’ as it is, it does happen and TH don’t seem to really know what to do when it does.

I couldn’t believe that this could happen to a seasoned sitter with over 60 sits to my name, that does ask all the pertinent questions etc before a sit.

I wanted to honestly put this experience all behind me and move on (on my way to a new sit today in fact) but then last night I read of another seasoned sitter (70+) of which I’m friends with had actually the same experience I had on their last TH sit and happened to mention it on their social media blog (they also left on arrival), so it’s becoming less rare and for this reason alone I feel it’s an issue that really needs to be correctly addressed by TH.

This is my last comment on the matter.

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It’s a glorious day here in Bromley (a suburb of London) where I am in probably my 70th or so sit, 50 or so with THS since 2018. It has been rare, extremely rare that I have had a negative experience, which is very subjective BTW because what is acceptable and tolerable to one is not to another. Of those less than ideal ones, one was really a personality clash, one was a damage by cats that HO expected me to cover and less than tidy, overcrowded spaces. NEVER have I felt unsafe or unwelcome.
As a sitter it is my responsibility to screen the listings and apply if I really feel it is desirable. That desire is fueled by my personal preferences above anything else. Then those initial conversations. I have very high standards and most of my sits are for people who also set the bar a bit higher. I don’t take a sit because I need a place to crash or because it happens to be in a dream destination or even the ideal pet if I do not feel comfortable that I am entering a safe environment. There are numerous people who I have no clue what their last name is nor do they know mine yet we have had incredible wonderful experiences.
If a person is extremely fearful of whatever they think might happen, that is understood and no fault or judgement but that individual needs to sharpen their assessment skills, (screening and deciphering) what is suitable for them and make decisions based on that. EI: Don’t get into a panel van with a guy in the woods.
It seems that many are looking for guarantees and totally risk free experiences but being alive is a risk from point zero. We make our own choices and no one is responsible or accountable for the outcomes of our decisions except ourselves.

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Sorry @MissChef but we do the responsible thing. Some of our peers tend to focus on their misadventures and seem to thrive on dramatizing and dragging elephant dung into the room over and over but it is in that space that we grow. We decide the next move, deal with it as best as possible and learn from the experience so as not to repeat it.

[quote=“Angela-CommunityManager, post:9, topic:13746”]
our space needs to be a hive of positive activity, that’s not to say there shouldn’t be honest and open discussions about all issues but there is so much to celebrate about our community and amazing lifestyle and you don’t have to look far to find it … but you won’
Amen hallelujah and hip hip hurray

We thank you!

:heart_on_fire: Human Spirit On Fire here!
Thank you.

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Don’t go getting sunburnt :rofl:

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I’ve a relatively new member to THS but started reading the forum regularly when I was on my first sit, a nightmare sit that THS conceded should have never made it through the screening process. I find the responses to MissChef‘s concerns and others like them forum-wide disturbing. Anyone familiar with toxic positivity or even a passing recognition of systems of oppression are having red flags go off left right and center reading these forms. A number of people are pointing out a pattern of problems. A second group of people are denying the problem exists because it hasn’t happened to them personally and telling the first group of people they just need to cheer up. As the kids say, this does not pass the vibe check and has big Boomer energy.

The issues being raised are system issues that require a systemic answer. For instance, on the issue of dirty houses, sitters are not asking for an individually assigned THS representative to travel to each home prior to the house sit with an air quality meter. We are asking for things that would facilitate and improve the ability of a sitter to evaluate a sit and be able to rely on that information, such interior photos of listings that are up to date, something THS says that they already require but any cursory review of listings reveals is not at all the reality. Or a review system that allows for honest reviews free from the fear of retaliation, something that has been promised attention for over a year now with no action. These are all things that THS say they are or should be providing anyway.

If you don’t have experience on a bad sit, guess what, YOU DON’T HAVE EXPERIENCE ON THE THING BEING TALKED ABOUT! Why on earth would you think your point of view is at all relevant!?! And if keeping your forum cheerful and positive is about asking people to be silent on issues that are germane to raising awareness of serious concerns in your community instead of addressing those concerns, you don’t have a positive community you have an oppressive one.

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