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Should questionable guest complaint and threat of a bad online review justify full refund?

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Mountain Inn

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I must post here more often! I am finding it very theraputic! I mentioned this on PAII forum so some of you may have seen it, but I wanted to include it here, too.
Thanks for all of your help on the guest with the resistable offer. I find myself being overly diplomatic in these days of online reviews and their impact on our businesses. But I have a real problem thinking a guest make cook up a complaint hoping to receive a free stay. If we are doing our very best to provide lodging that is indeed enjoyed and cherished by most of our guest, should we cower under the threats of bad reviews? Our guests all seem to love it here and we certainly bend over backwards to keep it that way. The incident I have in mind is this: Recently an area innkeeper, after already giving a very deep discount to a last minute guest, felt forced to not charge them at all the morning after their one night stay due to their comments about writing a bad review if they were charged - the guests made an unverified claim about the bath water smelling strangely. Innkeepers shared the story with NC inns, including the fact that the water was just checked by health dept and that the nearby room with same water supply reported no problems. The innkeepers went to the room upon receiving the call about bedtime call and the water was fine. The guests who ended up with a free one night stay talked about the bad review possibilities in front of the rest of the guests the next morning, creating (IMHO) a distasteful situation. Some of us jokingly said that when these guests show up as last minute drop ins asking for a deep discount, we will say we are charging extra for the smelly water this week!
I am compiling a journal of all the things I want to say and do during my last week as an innkeeper...the charge for smelly water is now among them!
 

JBloggs

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God forbid we live under the thumb of any nincompoop who comes along wielding power over us using a mouse.
As the saying goes, "Are ye a man or a mouse?"
I have seen bad reviews actually entice me to book a room at an inn by the owners response, endearing them to the reader. Truth only, let it be our guide, let it be #1 in all we say and do, and let the chips fall where they may.
 

Copperhead

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JB - Gotta say, I love that term. My Dad's favorite and I have not heard it said by anyone else in years, except by my DH when he gets on the kick of using all my dad's little phrases. - Thanks for making me smile.
First of all, if someone is a last minute or walk-in guest I would require 'payment first'. Then - you have their money already! There is no way in he!! that I would succumb to this blatant attempt to bully me. They were looking for something to get a free night, and if it hadn't been the water it would have been something else. To top it off, discussing this in front of other guests, anyone with proper manors would attempt to settle any grievance in private.
A tasteful owners response would be able to discredit anything writen by the likes of these individuals. And I would provide the other happy guests with information on how to post a review.
I will not be bullied...
 

Morticia

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If they write a review anyway? What recourse does the innkeeper have then? Or the guest writes a review that says 'tell them anything, you get to stay for free.'
'Let the chips fall where they may.'
Did the innkeeper hear them telling the other guests or are you saying the guest said that to the innkeeper in front of everyone else. If the latter, THAT would have wound me right up and I would have had to say, 'I have no control over what you do when you leave here. If you feel justified in writing a bad review, that is your privilege. However, we have had no other complaints about the water system and it was just inspected by the board of health. What credit card will you be using to pay your bill?'
 

gillumhouse

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I refuse to allow anyone other than me - or the laws of the State - run my business. If I had heard that guest, I may have offered them a pen to sign the credit card receipt and told them to keep the pen so they can take notes.
I did not cower and back down when my kids threatened the child abuse hotline and this falls in the same category.
 

seashanty

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it's blackmail. and it's absolutely rephrensible behavior.
no innkeeper wants a bad review.
guests know this.
in my opinion, a guest who speaks that way in front of other guests has to be spoken to immediately ... in front of the other guests. as in ' we are sorry you felt the water smelled strange. as you know, we accompanied you to your room and found no problem. inspection .. etc. ... blahblahblah '
each innkeeper has to decide if a 'free night' or discount is appropriate or not. sometimes, the dissatisfied guest STILL posts a negative review. if an innkeeper goes out of her/way to rectify a situation, there is no way a negative should be allowed.
but a bad review does not have to be the end of the world. a bad review, a truly bad review, should be responded to. as a guest, i always read the innkeeper response. some of them are brilliant. there have been great suggestions of turning around a bad review on forum.
 

Mountain Inn

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it's blackmail. and it's absolutely rephrensible behavior.
no innkeeper wants a bad review.
guests know this.
in my opinion, a guest who speaks that way in front of other guests has to be spoken to immediately ... in front of the other guests. as in ' we are sorry you felt the water smelled strange. as you know, we accompanied you to your room and found no problem. inspection .. etc. ... blahblahblah '
each innkeeper has to decide if a 'free night' or discount is appropriate or not. sometimes, the dissatisfied guest STILL posts a negative review. if an innkeeper goes out of her/way to rectify a situation, there is no way a negative should be allowed.
but a bad review does not have to be the end of the world. a bad review, a truly bad review, should be responded to. as a guest, i always read the innkeeper response. some of them are brilliant. there have been great suggestions of turning around a bad review on forum..
I know the innkeeper and we chatted by phone after her email to the state association members. She said the other guests heard his complaints and mentions of a review, I think. She also said that after she told him there would be no charge, he indicated that they would not write an online review. She also privately shared the name of the guest couple. And their hometown...which proved interesting to us because we had just begun getting webpage hits originating in that particular small NC town. The town shows up as the origin for a viewer every few days now. I am a native of NC and I didn't know the town. And would probably have never noticed it had this innkeeper not seen fit to share. I even know the area code and phone number. If they come here, and if we accept them as guests, at least we are forewarned. That leads to my next question: Is there a best way to refuse a room request from guests that you know will be PITA's? By phone and not face to face, No problem. But if they are physically here before we know it...We do get drop ins...we are the first b and b off the town exit and there are blue b and b informational signs leading to us from two directions. A drop in often asks do you have a room before they introduce themselves, so no way to know right off they are the grifters. (I looked up that word to use it...fits!)
 

wendydk

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Water smelled strangely? That's the lamest excuse for a refund (or a bad review) that I've ever heard. And the fact that a guest would threaten to write a bad review if they were charged for their stay is the ultimate in bad behavior. Frankly, I can't even imagine one of my guests saying such a thing, or how I would reply if they did.
Does that Innkeeper regularly get problem guests, or was this a complete anomaly? Just curious!
 

EmptyNest

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If you look back here you will see we have discussed TA issues on and on and on....nothing new.
It is guest BLACKMAIL pure and simple!
I have a friend who told me someone called looking for a discount for a one night Sat night. He told her the price and was firm. She stated firmly and nastily...that she would ruin him on Tripadvisor!!!! IF some said that to me I would be hanging that phone up as hard as I could. People think they have power for some reason from TA reviews. They don't....unless a truly bad review is warranted. If someone puts in a bogus one...an innkeeper does have some recourse...or just post a management statement.
Most people can read for themselves. If all reviews are good and there in one nasty...chances are you forget about it and move on.
 

birdwatcher

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i dont understand why guests think that way and why trip advisor has become something to blackmail a business with. No I would not have given in to this blackmail and I would certaintly have responded about the supposed "water" problem in front of the other guests and asked them if they had the same problem.
How sad do you think a hotel or motel would have done the same? Don't think so.
 

Joey Camb

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I would never give money back for something I didn't consider a serious complaint that I had seen myself eg a bathroom not thoroughly cleaned etc. I have a ton of good reviews and I'm not afraid of one bad one by people like that.
 

gillumhouse

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i dont understand why guests think that way and why trip advisor has become something to blackmail a business with. No I would not have given in to this blackmail and I would certaintly have responded about the supposed "water" problem in front of the other guests and asked them if they had the same problem.
How sad do you think a hotel or motel would have done the same? Don't think so..
do you think a hotel or motel would have done the same? Don't think so.
It depends on the chain. When I worked for H I travelers knew that all they had to do was complain about something to get the room, meal, whatever free. I had many bogus complaints about rooms - mostly by older folks on that one, but a waitress told me she heard one of the Bs from Hell aka Women Bowlers (tournament) tell the others at the table - all we have to do is make a complaint about the food and we will get this for free.
Unfortunately, it is nothing new.
 

Morticia

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i dont understand why guests think that way and why trip advisor has become something to blackmail a business with. No I would not have given in to this blackmail and I would certaintly have responded about the supposed "water" problem in front of the other guests and asked them if they had the same problem.
How sad do you think a hotel or motel would have done the same? Don't think so..
birdwatcher said:
How sad do you think a hotel or motel would have done the same? Don't think so.
Hotels and motels giving away the farm to anyone with a Twitter account is what's making it difficult for a smaller property. Some guests are tweeting from their rooms and 'all of a sudden' room service is at the door with all kinds of goodies to 'make amends'.
Temper tantrums are being rewarded post haste.
 

Morticia

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How about questionable guest illnesses?
Friend just called me because her guests for this weekend called to cancel. One of them has cancer. Totally understandable that she doesn't want to travel. But the second room? Staying home in 'support' of the friend instead of coming to town to see her own children? Not likely. And guess what? The guest is staying at another property in town!
 

Emily Spiers

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i dont understand why guests think that way and why trip advisor has become something to blackmail a business with. No I would not have given in to this blackmail and I would certaintly have responded about the supposed "water" problem in front of the other guests and asked them if they had the same problem.
How sad do you think a hotel or motel would have done the same? Don't think so..
birdwatcher said:
How sad do you think a hotel or motel would have done the same? Don't think so.
Hotels and motels giving away the farm to anyone with a Twitter account is what's making it difficult for a smaller property. Some guests are tweeting from their rooms and 'all of a sudden' room service is at the door with all kinds of goodies to 'make amends'.
Temper tantrums are being rewarded post haste.
.
Morticia said:
Temper tantrums are being rewarded post haste.
Don't tell my kids that!!! ;)
 

Copperhead

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i dont understand why guests think that way and why trip advisor has become something to blackmail a business with. No I would not have given in to this blackmail and I would certaintly have responded about the supposed "water" problem in front of the other guests and asked them if they had the same problem.
How sad do you think a hotel or motel would have done the same? Don't think so..
birdwatcher said:
How sad do you think a hotel or motel would have done the same? Don't think so.
Hotels and motels giving away the farm to anyone with a Twitter account is what's making it difficult for a smaller property. Some guests are tweeting from their rooms and 'all of a sudden' room service is at the door with all kinds of goodies to 'make amends'.
Temper tantrums are being rewarded post haste.
.
Morticia said:
Temper tantrums are being rewarded post haste.
That has become an epidemic in so many ways!
 

Samster

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If you look back here you will see we have discussed TA issues on and on and on....nothing new.
It is guest BLACKMAIL pure and simple!
I have a friend who told me someone called looking for a discount for a one night Sat night. He told her the price and was firm. She stated firmly and nastily...that she would ruin him on Tripadvisor!!!! IF some said that to me I would be hanging that phone up as hard as I could. People think they have power for some reason from TA reviews. They don't....unless a truly bad review is warranted. If someone puts in a bogus one...an innkeeper does have some recourse...or just post a management statement.
Most people can read for themselves. If all reviews are good and there in one nasty...chances are you forget about it and move on..
This is how I was blindsided with a bogus TA review. Someone had called asking for a room rates for a weekend stay and did we give a discount for Federal employees. Huh? I told the caller that we had a corporate rate for Sun-Thurs for single business travelers. "My wife is traveling with me, but you can still give me the corporate rate, right?" Uh, no....that's why it's a corporate rate for single weekday biz travelers, not couples on the weekend. He kept pressing and I just repeated our pricing. He was not happy but it seemed like we left it OK. Name was on the caller ID. That Saturday a couple showed up at the door wanting a "tour" after checking in at another B&B. All our rooms were full and I was actually just checking in other guests. These people wandered around our common area and talked to my husband and after I got the other folks taken care of, I returned to chatting with them & introduced myself, shook hands, and got their name. Something rang a bell! I had kept the name of the caller wondering if I'd hear back because he was somewhat disgruntled and it was the same. Next thing I know, the other B&B had a horrible review and we had a review that attacked me personally but led a reader to think they had actually stayed here. After a management response and several emails to TA requesting that they remove the review because it was bogus unless they had proof of stay PLUS the reviewer had also attacked the other B&B, they took both reviews off.
I had to deal with all of that while on vacation. Gee thanks. All because some bozo who thought they could get something off because they had a government job? Nice.
We have to do the best we can and not be threatened by a bad review from someone who has nothing better to do. The other couple who were checking in were baffled by someone just showing up and demanding a tour. We said nothing but later they said, "Who did those people that showed up while we were checking in think they were? You said that you didn't have any available rooms! You were really nice to them. You aren't some big hotel!"
 

Don Draper

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We had a real jerk here once who pushed every limit (and every button of ours) while he was here for his whopping one night. The final straw was when he was verbally nasty to me at check-out, DH jumped in and basically pushed the guy out the door. The guest said "I sure hope there's somewhere to leave a review of this place" and DH said "C'mon back in, I"ll grab my laptop and you can write it right now". He just stormed off to his car, never to be heard from again. You're just not going to get far with those kind of threats here, I really hate to hear when any small business owner lets themselves be intimidated by this "threat".
 

JBloggs

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PS Catlady you do know that our state tourism is reworking some of their website stuff and sent out a questionnaire and one question on it was about posting TA reviews on our listing!!
 

EmptyNest

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PS Catlady you do know that our state tourism is reworking some of their website stuff and sent out a questionnaire and one question on it was about posting TA reviews on our listing!!.
They told me a while ago they were going to be doing something when I complained about so many NON B & B Inns being listed as an Inn or a B & B. But haven't really looked at it much. Do they want to link to your TA reviews??
 
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