Venting & then changing policies!!

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Kay Nein's picture
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We have a 2-night minimum this month.  We take deposit equal to one night at time of reservation and the balance when they arrive.  Last night a couple arrive for their 2-nights, checked into their room & slipped out for dinner before we got the balance for their stay.  The other innkeeper decided to leave for the night rather than wait around until who knows how late from them to get back from dinner.  This morning after breakfast they announce that they are not staying another night because the wife could not sleep with the traffic outside the window (first complaint of that ever).  They packed up & left.  We're so mad!!  I suspect that they booked two nights because we required it, avoided us to keep from paying for 2nd night and then used an excuse to leave without fulfilling their obligation.   Our mistake for not getting payment when they arrived - totally our fault.  Lesson learned!!

So, how do your policies read for people who leave without finishing out their reservation.  I know we've talked about this before, but I need to specifically change our policies to cover us in the future.  In this case, even if we had a policy in place, I highly doubt that they'd hand over their card to allow us to charge for a night they weren't staying.  However, we do have their card number from their deposit.  I expect in the future the guest would have paid their balance already & then at some time decided to leave, so it would be a refund issue.  However, we did have one woman a few months ago arrive for a 4 night reservation & immediately tell us that she was just staying one night before we even had a chance to ask her to settle up.  

Once again, I appreciate your input... please don't remind me that it was our fault... we feel duped!!  crying

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If you are an established business, with positive reviews on numerous websites, people do not question payment in full.  To confirm the date, we charge payment in full for ONE to THREE nights and 50% down payment for FOUR nights or more. They pay this via Paypal, directly from pay buttons on our website or I invoice them through Paypal.

The problem I have is how do you RE-charge the credit card (supplied and copied upon check in) if damages were made, like smoking in the room which incurred a $175.00 fee? The guest also signed (and was given a copy) of the renter's rules stating the "no smoking policy" and fees attached if this rule was broken.  

Does anyone have a suggestion of a good credit card processing company (not Square or Intuit because I do not have a Smartphone).  Paypal will not work on this problem.  I would like a company with low processing and monthly fees.  

 

 

 

 

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Kay Nein's picture
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You've already received some good responses to the original post you created.  But, I see that you've posted this same question/issue in several other non-related posts.  It's best to just stick with one thread so all the responses are in one place.  You'll see that other forum members will reply and a very good discussion will result.  In placing your question all over the forum in other thread topics, it's not as effective. 

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Hi K9, Thanks & I agree, but I have yet to figure out how to delete a comment on this site. Ta' B

 

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Little_Easy_Cabins wrote:

Hi K9, Thanks & I agree, but I have yet to figure out how to delete a comment on this site. Ta' B

 

Can't delete posts. As long as nobody has yet replied to your comment, you can edit the comment to remove/change text. Once somebody has replied, it's locked.

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seashanty's picture
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yes ... airlines.  charged and non refundable, no changes allowed  (big money) so i buy trip insurance. 

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So SS did you ever report back on your trip to Ireland or was it Scotland??  I don't recall seeing anything. I hope it was wonderful!

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I've had hotels charge the full stay to the card at the time the online reservation was made, but only for their lowest, non-refundable rate.

Same with airlines. If you take their lowest offer and it's non-refundable, they generally charge it the day you make the reservation.

seashanty's picture
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i took a night's stay deposit at booking ... always ...  then i took balance at check in.  this worked for me. 

the week long stay and wedding weekends i had much more at stake, much more to lose, and put on my very big business hat and requested a larger deposit and balance of payment in full before the big event. 

i am going through past hotel stays in my mind and it seems to me they took credit card info but did not run the charge until i checked in. then they ran the charge for the full stay before handing me my keycard.  this was courtyard by marriot and extended stay america.

unless i used priceline or one of those services, then it was pay in full at booking. 

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You charge the final amount no less than two weeks before they arrive.  How is this even a discussion?  You get the final amount long before they arrive.  Then, they can leave when they want and you don't have to worry about it, except for fighting the charge-back.  But if you've documented your cancellation policies well, you will win your cb appeal.  C'mon, guys, stop being "nice" and DO BUSINESS in a manner that protects yourself.

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tar4heel2 wrote:

You charge the final amount no less than two weeks before they arrive.  How is this even a discussion?  You get the final amount long before they arrive.  Then, they can leave when they want and you don't have to worry about it, except for fighting the charge-back.  But if you've documented your cancellation policies well, you will win your cb appeal.  C'mon, guys, stop being "nice" and DO BUSINESS in a manner that protects yourself.

I'll be honest with you... I wouldn't be staying at your B&B. People stay with me because they want to stay with me. I treat them well and they trust me. Any place that insists on being paid in full ahead of time, sounds scary to me, like there is something wrong. I understand a deposit. I consider my reservation my bond. I understand being charged for cancellation. I understand the reason for all the policies. But if you told me in your policies that you were charging me in full a week before my arrival... I would never make the reservation. (Just being honest.)

Days Inn doesn't charge ahead of time. They keep a credit card on hand. If you don't arrive by 6PM they cancel your reservation. Unless you guarantee your reservation (which I usually do) and even then, they don't charge until I actually arrive and present my card.

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gillumhouse's picture
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 C'mon, guys, stop being "nice" and DO BUSINESS in a manner that protects yourself.
 

It is being nice and treating my guests like people rather than commodities that has brought me many return guests. The fact that I will serve a full hot breakfast any time they request between 4 AM and 10 AM, that I give them routings, make reservations, help them with information, and cater to THEM is my way of doing business and brings me much joy. The fact that my City and the charity organizations know they can count on me with a free room (yes, I said FREE) has given back to me many times over. The B & Bs For Vets free rooms gives me much more in warm & fuzzies than any $$$ could. Since Nov 11 is a Sunday, my Vets are getting 3 nights this year.

To live only in the world of the "bottom line" would be a very cold and sad place to be for me.

However - to each his own. (I do not take deposits, I do not collect until checkout, and although she offered to pay, I did not charge the lady who left a day early because she was afraid of the weather going across the mountains to the East Coast. And I LIKE it that way.)

 

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Bravo. I think you speak for most of us.  

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Tom
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gillumhouse wrote:

... to each his own. (I do not take deposits, I do not collect until checkout, and although she offered to pay, I did not charge the lady who left a day early because she was afraid of the weather going across the mountains to the East Coast. And I LIKE it that way.

Gillum is right: to each innkeeper his own clientele.  Reading the vents and rants here over the past 3 plus years, I have been amazed at our various clientele.  Some is regional differences, some is urban v. country locations.  Some may be who we attract in the marketplace (keep your rates high!).   

The main thing is you learn to read your guests and can deal leniently with the good apples and sternly with the ... crab apples.  We, too, do not take deposits, do not collect until checkout, and cut a lot of slack on cancelations.  So far, so good.  A few unpleasant situations, sometimes we feel someone has taken advantage of us, but we don't want to take it out on the vast majority, the nice guests.

In any business a little loss always happens - like shoplifting in retail.  Sure it sucks, but if it is a tiny percentage of the overall, don't get bent over it or you will lose the good customers.

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Again I'm going to say you are probably in a high occupancy area. NO ONE where I live even charges a deposit except me. Do you really think guests are going to flock to stay with me if my policy is: 100% upfront payment, no refunds, take a flying leap?

It works for you. It may work for some. It doesn't work for everyone. As the geeks like to say your mileage may vary. A lot of us are competing for guests with hotels with same day cancellation and no charge at all policies. We have to play the game the way it works where we do business.

It doesn't help to yell at everyone that they're doing it wrong. I'm glad to hear that you've hit on the policies that work for you. We've all had the day where a guest got the better of us. It's good to hear other ways of doing things. We can all take a look to see where we can improve by having lots of different ways of doing things presented here.

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Madeleine wrote:

Again I'm going to say you are probably in a high occupancy area. NO ONE where I live even charges a deposit except me. Do you really think guests are going to flock to stay with me if my policy is: 100% upfront payment, no refunds, take a flying leap?

It works for you. It may work for some. It doesn't work for everyone. As the geeks like to say your mileage may vary. A lot of us are competing for guests with hotels with same day cancellation and no charge at all policies. We have to play the game the way it works where we do business.

It doesn't help to yell at everyone that they're doing it wrong. I'm glad to hear that you've hit on the policies that work for you. We've all had the day where a guest got the better of us. It's good to hear other ways of doing things. We can all take a look to see where we can improve by having lots of different ways of doing things presented here.

I don't pretend to know your market and competitive situation, but (and I say this with all due respect), I respectfully submit that you are in denial.  NONE of your competitors take  a deposit or first night's charge at all?  Even the flags (if you have any)?  Wow....  That's really something...  If that's really the case then I stand corrected, but that's a hard one to fathom.  Even Days Inn takes first night.  I have never seen a hotel that doesn't take first night!  What's the point of taking a cc then?

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tar4heel2 wrote:

Madeleine wrote:

Again I'm going to say you are probably in a high occupancy area. NO ONE where I live even charges a deposit except me. Do you really think guests are going to flock to stay with me if my policy is: 100% upfront payment, no refunds, take a flying leap?

It works for you. It may work for some. It doesn't work for everyone. As the geeks like to say your mileage may vary. A lot of us are competing for guests with hotels with same day cancellation and no charge at all policies. We have to play the game the way it works where we do business.

It doesn't help to yell at everyone that they're doing it wrong. I'm glad to hear that you've hit on the policies that work for you. We've all had the day where a guest got the better of us. It's good to hear other ways of doing things. We can all take a look to see where we can improve by having lots of different ways of doing things presented here.

I don't pretend to know your market and competitive situation, but (and I say this with all due respect), I respectfully submit that you are in denial.  NONE of your competitors take  a deposit or first night's charge at all?  Even the flags (if you have any)?  Wow....  That's really something...  If that's really the case then I stand corrected, but that's a hard one to fathom.  Even Days Inn takes first night.  I have never seen a hotel that doesn't take first night!  What's the point of taking a cc then?

 

I have never taken a deposit and have fared very well. But most Inns and Hotels around here do.  I am too lazy to deal with the paperwork and I don't think of my guests in dollar signs. I want them to come in, take a load of and not think about anything else but relaxing.

In 18 years of being here, I have had only 1 guest skip out on me. I have never had a bounced personal check and all the credit cards were good.  Doing business the "good old way" is still working here and that makes me incredibly happy.  
However, we are super busy in summer and my place is at 93-98% for July, August and September. If someone cancels without giving me enough time to rebook the cottage, I am going to charge them the full amount for the rental. If I can find takers for the days I pay back every penny.  I believe in karma Eye-wink

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tar4heel2 wrote:

Madeleine wrote:

Again I'm going to say you are probably in a high occupancy area. NO ONE where I live even charges a deposit except me. Do you really think guests are going to flock to stay with me if my policy is: 100% upfront payment, no refunds, take a flying leap?

It works for you. It may work for some. It doesn't work for everyone. As the geeks like to say your mileage may vary. A lot of us are competing for guests with hotels with same day cancellation and no charge at all policies. We have to play the game the way it works where we do business.

It doesn't help to yell at everyone that they're doing it wrong. I'm glad to hear that you've hit on the policies that work for you. We've all had the day where a guest got the better of us. It's good to hear other ways of doing things. We can all take a look to see where we can improve by having lots of different ways of doing things presented here.

I don't pretend to know your market and competitive situation, but (and I say this with all due respect), I respectfully submit that you are in denial.  NONE of your competitors take  a deposit or first night's charge at all?  Even the flags (if you have any)?  Wow....  That's really something...  If that's really the case then I stand corrected, but that's a hard one to fathom.  Even Days Inn takes first night.  I have never seen a hotel that doesn't take first night!  What's the point of taking a cc then?

!st - hotels such as Day's Inn do not charge a deposit, they take your CC # to secure your reservation but do not charge until check in/or no show.  There may be a few that do take deposits, but that is rare and may be due to location which brings me to B&B's -.

Glad this works for you 30 days, pay 100% up front.  It would not work here!  I would be closed!  I am even considering reducing our cancel period from 14 down to 7 days.  I believe it will INCREACE my business. 

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hmmmm...Tarheel, when was the last time you stayed in a hotel?  I have been traveling a lot lately and not a single place has taken a deposit...hotel or B&B/inn.  Yes, my cc is on file with the lodging property.  In fact, we recently stayed at a historic hotel and they "authorized" my card at check-in, but didn't run the card for the stay until check-out.

I think there's a difference in chastising other B&B/inn owners in their business practices vs. offering another point of view.  smiley

 

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tar4heel2 wrote:

Madeleine wrote:

Again I'm going to say you are probably in a high occupancy area. NO ONE where I live even charges a deposit except me. Do you really think guests are going to flock to stay with me if my policy is: 100% upfront payment, no refunds, take a flying leap?

It works for you. It may work for some. It doesn't work for everyone. As the geeks like to say your mileage may vary. A lot of us are competing for guests with hotels with same day cancellation and no charge at all policies. We have to play the game the way it works where we do business.

It doesn't help to yell at everyone that they're doing it wrong. I'm glad to hear that you've hit on the policies that work for you. We've all had the day where a guest got the better of us. It's good to hear other ways of doing things. We can all take a look to see where we can improve by having lots of different ways of doing things presented here.

I don't pretend to know your market and competitive situation, but (and I say this with all due respect), I respectfully submit that you are in denial.  NONE of your competitors take  a deposit or first night's charge at all?  Even the flags (if you have any)?  Wow....  That's really something...  If that's really the case then I stand corrected, but that's a hard one to fathom.  Even Days Inn takes first night.  I have never seen a hotel that doesn't take first night!  What's the point of taking a cc then?

I can easily go to each of my competitors' websites to read their policies. If they are flagrantly ignoring their own stated policies and charging guests in advance I think that might show up in their reviews.

This is a very casual kind of town. Which may or may not explain things. We don't have more than 2-3 events in the entire year when rooms are at a premium. We know when these are and institute a 2-night min. Sometimes we are the only B&B with the minimum as well. Go figure.

The point of taking the cc is to push the guest to understand they have money on the line. The card number is on file if they don't show up.

Like I mentioned in another thread, we started doing the deposits only after we got burned for $1800 in one week when 2-3 guests didn't show/left early without paying/called late to cancel and their credit cards were bad when we tried to charge them.

We adapted a few policies when that happened- no entry without full payment for late arrivals, for one. Deposit taken. No refunds for early leaving unless the rooms are rebooked (altho I will admit to letting long time repeats slide on this one because the thousands they spend the rest of the year are more important than hewing to the policy verbatim).

So, yes, we're the only B&B that takes a deposit. (Don't know what the hotels do.) I wouldn't take a 'flagged' guest even with a deposit!

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Once you have added the early departure clause to your policies, you should have less issues on this, but not always.  At least you have written info to point out if they have forgotten.

And FYI, the ones I have ever had issues with are ones that dodged me when I tried to get payment up front but allowed them room access first.  So now if they come in dancing and need to 'go' now they are taken upstairs, left to do business but I will not give them the key until I get their payment. 

 

Madeleine's picture
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I have cooled my heels too many times while everyone had a pee. Now they can go one at a time and the one who goes second can pay up while waiting. I really hate having to do this but we DO get people who figure if we let them in they're all paid up and they sail out the door without actually signing anything. Nope. I do my raven imitation: nevermore.

Even if I say, 'Your room is right here. I will wait by the desk for you,' I have been left standing for 30 minutes. But, no keys and no door code. You WILL see me again!

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We charge the whole stay right away. I thought for sure this would lead to issues but so far so good.

Generic's picture
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Put it in your policies that no-shows, early departures and those who cancel or change with less than 24 hours notice will be charged their entire stay. It will deter most people from this kind of abuse. 

We allow single nights only if they abut another reservation. For example if Friday/Saturday is sold, we might open up Thursday and Sunday to single nights. We charge 10% more for single nights (we discount 10% automatically on reservations of 2 nights or more and put up our rates by 10% to cover the discount.)

Most people are honest and moral, but not all. Chalk it up and look forward. Is there a way you could have made more money by taking the reservation for one day? Would that policy have deterred them?

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I like your wording & will put that in our policies.  

We haven't had but one other person stiff us since we've been here.  I knew it would happen eventually, so I wasn't surprised or as mad as the other innkeeper.  

We, too, open up the reservations to one-nighters to fill odd spots or on the Thursday before just to fill rooms. 

I was assuming that they were deliberate in not paying & leaving.  It could have been an honest issue with the traffic noise (police dept is right up the street & zoom by for all call-outs), but I lean towards thinking not.  So, I can't say if a higher rate for a one-night on a two-night weekend would have mattered. I actually have one lady who agreed & paid for two nights even though she is only staying one because there is nothing else available in town.  If I have a walk-in that wants it, I won't charge her.  But, that's an honest person playing by the rules which I respect.... 

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I would charge the walk-in. It's not dishonest, it's simply part of business. But you could just give that money (less the tax) as a donation to your favourite charity.

We had a case this summer where guests checked in at 2:30 and paid. Handed us back the key at 4 with a smile on their faces. I cleaned and flipped the room and we put it back on the market with a discount by 6. And a lovely family that needed a place to stay rented it for the night and had a wonderful stay. Regardless of how I feel about their tryst and why they feel they need to visit my B&B for it, I'm in business to pay my bills. The best guests always realize and respect that. It's exactly those who don't respect that, that you need to worry about.

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As long as they arn't screamers - I am not the morality police.

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Here is the thing. From my heart to yours... We have it in the policies about early departures will be charged the entire length of their stay, but when the person is standing in front of you telling you they hate it here, or have an emergency, or something...you let them go.

BUT - having it in writing may deter a couple instances of this, maybe. So put it in, and then of course it is a case by case enforcement.

K9, if you had charged them in full, I can bet they would be standing in front of you demanding the second night be refunded, if that makes you feel any better. And you know what, as we say from an innmate here on the forum "What is it worth?" Is it worth having miserable people bring down the whole inn, and you for an addtl day, to keep them there? Or is it in the end, worth having them out of your hair? As mentioned, case by case, only you can make the call. You have met them. "Is it worth the hassle?"

I know this goes against everything we state when we say stick to your policies...but these are real people we are dealing with. 

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Kay Nein's picture
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I agree completely and they were a little too hoity-toity for our liking anyways.  I was fine with her leaving, but it was just the principle of it.

I just need to put it in the policies, so we have something to back us up even if we make the judgment call to let them out of it.  

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

K9, if you had charged them in full, I can bet they would be standing in front of you demanding the second night be refunded, if that makes you feel any better. And you know what, as we say from an innmate here on the forum "What is it worth?" Is it worth having miserable people bring down the whole inn, and you for an addtl day, to keep them there? Or is it in the end, worth having them out of your hair? As mentioned, case by case, only you can make the call. You have met them. "Is it worth the hassle?"

I know this goes against everything we state when we say stick to your policies...but these are real people we are dealing with. 

And that is it exactly. We have refunded people who we should have charged double just so they would go bother someone else. It's a decision you make whenever it comes up. Like the mother telling me she wasn't able to stay while her daughter was hauling in all of her bags. They left in the morning because I told her I was not refunding at 7 PM. I did refund the second night but it's in my notes to not let her rebook. (Not that they ever do.)

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'No refunds for early departure or late arrival.' Then you decide if you're going to give them the money back or not.

OTOH, when we have guests who do not pay us on arrival (late arrivals) we charge the card in full before they are given the info to get in the house.

So, the policy you might want to change is the one where you give guests access to their rooms without full payment.  (Sorry, that sounded like I was blaming you.) In this case, you feel duped because they didn't pay up front. You could have refunded them had you had the option because you were paid in advance.

Kay Nein's picture
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yes, you're right - no access to the room until paid in full.  We're usually more lax about it and tell them to just relax and get settled in.  Not anymore!

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Sorry that happened, what drop kicks! 

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