Will a (unfair and untrue) bad review sink me?

I got a very unfair review that suggested I allowed damage to the home by neglecting to supervise the animal, and that I didn’t adequately feed the animal. Both of these are problems that I feel would have been cleared up with a contact after the sit from the HO, but involved damage to something that should have been behind gates and was told not to worry about, and the lack of food when they got home was because the animal had eaten the food! I have 4 five star reviews and 1 three star review saying I neglected the animal, which would be a deal breaker for me as a HO. I don’t like the review system, as it seems like too many HOs review as if they were doing a YELP review or reviewing a paid service. My question is, have any of you experienced being turned down from sits more often after a poor review? Will the last 9 months of my THS membership be a waste?

You have right of reply and there is always 2 sides to a story/review. Try not to worry about it and trust that the previous reviews will get you through.

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Not necessarily. Have you written your own review and is it fair, balanced, unemotional and honest? If not, do so. Also make sure you add balanced feedback in response to their review too. People read both sides of a review not just one. If it’s very unfair then speak to support but don’t hold your breath on help. @pietkuip will tell you his 3 star review hasn’t hindered him so far in securing more sits. Try not to worry too much and watch out for the same red flags with future HOs as they may have been there. Stay strong :raised_hands:t3:

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Yes, one does not need to be too afraid. I was accepted on both my applications after a three-star review. No questions asked even!

If you have not responded yet: take your time. Consider not writing anything. And if you get a good idea for a rejoinder: let someone else read it before posting it.

Be aware that they might respond to your review.

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I got one 3 star review out of 30. One home owner later turned me down because of the review and also the review I left for that home owner (who exploited me and treated me like a servant). However, lots of people still want me as their pet sitter and thankfully I have received a few more 5 star reviews since then.

It upset me when I got rejected by this other person, who had seemed lovely before. It upset me, but sometimes life doesn’t go the way we want. It will always depend on who reads the reviews, how they interpret them, how they see the world, how you approach them… Reviews are an important factor, but they are not everything.

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You can reply to their review so it is underneath and whoever does check the reviews will see your reply. I don’t believe the owner can then add anything to your reply so your update will be the last word on the matter that anyone will see. Keep it fairly factual. I don’t know all the details but assuming the animal chewed or scratched something in the house while you were out you could say something like this:
"It’s unfortunate that you chose not to discuss this directly so I will leave my response to your comments here. When I was out one afternoon for 4 hours Fluffy chewed on your life-size Nick Cage statue. This was unfortunate but you had said that Fluffy was ok to be left for 4-6 hours, he had been walked just before that and been fed. You had also advised that Fluffy could be left alone with the statue so it was unexpected that he suddenly took a disliking to it in the short time I was away. I did advise you of the damage immediately and endeavored to keep Fluffy and Nick separate after this.
You comment that I must have neglected Fluffy as his food bowl was empty on your return. I had followed your instructions regarding his food and feeding schedule and left the correct amount of food for him so I can only surmise that he must have eaten it by the time you arrived back home to cause the bowl to be empty. If this was not the correct amount and you arrived back as scheduled may I suggest you recheck the amounts that you advise future sitters to feed.
I do hope you have been able to repair Nick in the interim.

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We’ve only got 5*'s, but I know from the stories on here how easily it can happen. Write your review addressing your opinion of the negatives they raised in a way that makes you look responsible and disheartened which you obviously are, but don’t add any fuel to the fire by adding negatives about them in any sort of way (which some seem to). Potentially you could offer to pay towards the damage depending on what the circumstances were, only you know whats right on that front.
Personally, I would swamp their review in a few 5*'s quickly so that you get it out of your mind quickly, maybe even pick up a few two-night stays to speed up making their review a thing of the past.

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Try not to worry about the review, definitely respond to it in the reply area and be tactful and respectful in your reply. HOs will see your reply and can make their own judgement. As a HO, if you applied for my sit I would talk to you about the review to get your side and wouldn’t judge you by that one review. Good luck!

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Try not to worry, people read both sides and also between the lines. I just read @pietkuip 's 3-star review and have concluded that the pet-parent is the difficult one. I also own an airbnb with all 5-star reviews except 1. I responded to this review fairly and calmly and never had any problems securing future reservations. Just make sure that you come accross calm, fair, and objective in your response. That way readers can conclude for themselves.

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I am sorry that happened and I know that must be very disheartening. Like others have said, you can reply to their review and HOs will see the response beneath. But if you choose to go this route, do your best to be factual and non-emotional. I have seen some instances where the sitter’s response made them look worse than the actual review, and that is what would actually keep me from picking them if I were a HO.

And these sorts of responses that are very defensive in nature give a strong impression that the negative review is probably accurate. Of course, this may not be true at all, but it is all about perception and that is what most people would probably perceive.

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I have a two star and 2 of 4 star reviews out of 30… I never reply a “bad” review as I do not feel defending my self and neither explain my self to other HO’s for something that I do out of love and not for money. It actually eliminates HO’s who expect more than what it is -(assuming that they take into account only bad reviews but not the rest…)which is a win win… It is all about perspectives. I still get booked fully. I am good at what I do, period.

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Interesting to read different perspectives. I think when you reply, it’s crucial to 1) stick to facts and keep it factual and 2)just reply to what they criticised about you. If you start saying negative things about the other party in your reply, and these other aspects hadn’t come up in their review, it will look like you are just trying to make them look bad, in a way of “I am right and they are wrong! Look at how bad they are!” - and that wont’ come across well to others reading it.

I do think that it can be good to reply and give your perspective - if you stick to facts.

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Well that would have been a much better answer than I gave!

The main problem with replying, is that when the reply slams the homeowners and has an angry or retaliatory tone, that’s a real turn off for pet parents who just want to avoid drama. Not replying doesn’t read as acceptance. Replying with objective facts and not making it about you or about the homeowner is the best course.

I wrote the original post. Update, I’ve been turned down without comment from all 3 of the sits I’ve applied to since that review was posted 28 days ago. These were sits I considered highly likely, and I’ve rarely been turned down before. I have a few sits that were set previously, but I do feel that THS allowed a false review to end or significantly hinder my use of my remaining paid membership. I did reply to the bad review, which I regret as it probably just added drama. A better answer would have been “I’m sorry that the sit did not meet this host’s expectations. Please see my other reviews.” Thus, I regret defending my reputation when a HO made untrue accusations - not exactly an equal balance in the reviews from HO and HS. I love sitting and I do a great job, but with one malicious review I have lost the value of my paid membership. Please THS, allow reviews to be taken down with good cause!

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Has anyone ever asked THS to remove their REPLY to a review? If so, I’d like to hear the outcome. Cheers

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We are in the same position and it’s so upsetting and making me consider not renewing our membership. It feels like sitters are not protected when it comes to the crunch. In our case we arrived to a home that had been entirely mis represented by the owner and we had a catalogue of problems to deal with. We ended up reporting the situation to customer support in order to protect future sitters and also because it’s not fair for such a HO to remain on the platform as we know her behaviour is not representative of all the conscientious home owners that treat sitters and animals well. Because of this the owner has left an untrue review of us calling into question our care of her animals which I would fully expect to impact our future bookings. How can we protect ourselves from bad sits that breach the terms of the site if everything is treated as he said/she said in the reviews even when it’s proven lies?

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@ADF I’m really sorry to hear of your bad experience and the revenge review.
In your case-as you’ve already complained to THS about them you may have some leverage in getting it removed. If THS refuse to remove it (likely) make sure you reply to the review- factually and unemotionally. At least you have the chance to balance the review with your comments. In time that poor review will slip further down the list and be overtaken by more great reviews. So whatever the outcome try not to worry too much- but I can certainly understand your disappointment and concern.

We had a similar bad experience where we had to complain to THS and eventually get them to mediate. In our case we insisted they get the hosts to agree that we don’t review each other as we saw no point in wrecking both profiles when it was clear we’d both give horrible reviews. THS did not suggest this but they did support our reasoning in making this request. Sometimes no review at all really is better than a bad one as missing reviews don’t show on sitter profiles-infact the sit does not show at all.
The downside is those hosts are still operating when they should have been removed, and were not, despite THS knowing the whole story. They’ve had 3 more sitters since us- all long stay- and like us, none have left feedback. It pains me that we could not warn future sitters but the situation got so unbearable- sometime you just have to put yourself first. In retrospect we missed some red flags in the feedback & lack of from sitters before us… Its a learning curve!

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Thanks for that answer. I’ve learned a lot from the experience, but it ruined an otherwise wonderful stay. THS has been no help, they stick by their “blind review” policy and won’t even let me edit or remove my own review or my response to the HO’s untrue review, which in this case would have satisfied me.

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@PetSitter So sorry to hear about your experience and agree THS is not balanced. Curious if the HO’s had any negative reviews or Sitters/Guests who left no reviews (which I think typically means it wasn’t a good experience)? Believe you can only see a lack of reviews via the phone app. Or if they’ve left poor reviews for other Sitters/Guests? As a Sitter/Guest, I’ve seen this pattern with some HO’s and avoid them; they’ll find issue with something, so it’s not worth it. If that’s the case, maybe address it in your profile and see if that makes a difference. And agree, there are HO’s treating Sitters/Guests as if they are paid employees (I even had a HO use the word “hire”) and they are losing site that this is supposed to be an equitable exchange.