So this is only sort of related to Airbnb, but bear with me. It's a bit of long story.
I had a guest this week at my cottage. They stayed for seven days. They didn't book through Airbnb; they booked through a site that allows me to actually properly hold a security deposit. I had a bad feeling about these guests from the off. I don't know what it was: I just didn't feel good about it. Something about the communication put up red flags for me: they didn't seem very respectful. I even drove by a few times during the week that they stayed to make sure everything looked okay, and it did, so I told myself I was being paranoid.
So they checked out this morning, and I went to clean with my heart in my mouth. It was the dirtiest I've ever seen my cottage, by far, and they did delightful things like leave a dirty diaper in the bathroom garbage... a garbage they had removed the bag from, even though there were lots of fresh bags to use. They were just bad, disrespectful guests, and it took way longer than normal to clean.
The piece de la resistance... they had put either something hot or a stripping chemical on one of the side tables in the sunroom. There are three solid wood tables that all match: a coffee table and two side tables. They were in excellent condition when the guests arrived. The damage isn't minor: it's about 3" wide and 8" long. It's extremely noticable. It looks like s%!t. The table is cherry coloured, and how it has a big blonde stripe straight down the middle.
The good thing about it is that, unlike with Airbnb, I actually get to decide how much to charge them to remedy this! Do I take the opportunity to get a new set of tables? Do I prorate the value of the tables based on their age? I don't know how old they are: they came with the cottage and they looked brand new. I don't think they were super expensive, but they're solid wood and definitely not Ikea. Do I try and refinish that one table? What would YOU do if you actually had the power to control your security deposit? What do you think is fair? Personally, I don't think that the pro-rating that Airbnb seems to use to dole out the host guarantee is very fair. Just because a table is 10 years old doesn't mean that it's 1/10th the price to replace it. I don't want this newfound power to go to my head :-). I want to make a fair proposal. However, I'm also pretty pissed off about the state of the cottage.
This all got me thinking: If you controlled the host guarantee, how would you calculate the payouts? We hear so many stories about what's unfair about the guarantee: if you had the control, what would you do? How would you ensure that people were getting paid a fair amount? Or would you just get rid of it entirely and let people rely on their own insurance?
@Alexandra316 If it was something hot placed on it. You can fix that. It will take a little of your time, but it better to keep the set whole. As silly as it sounds, it really works.
Heat up a steam iron on high. Get a plain white tee shirt and place it over the stain. Iron it with steam for about a minute, then lift the tee shirt off the stain and look at it. Put the tee shirt back over the stain and repeat this process over and over at first it will seem like it's not working for a while then suddenly you will see the stain getting lighter and lighter until it's finally gone. Depending on the size of the stain it could take 30-60 minutes to remove, but it does work. I have done it. I thought my mother was nuts when she suggested this lol...
@Alexandra316 In that case I would take it to a furniture repair shop and have them refinish the top. Whatever the cost plus gas and time added to it and the additional cleaning time gets deducted from the deposit. If this was on HA/VRBO list the items and expenses and keep all receipts and log the cleaning time. They may aduit the deduction if the guest complain, but if you document it your fine. I actually get a credit card front and back from guest with ID and rental agreement over there and will change anything over the $500 security to that. Once again all documented in the event of a chargeback.
If i controlled the Host guarantee, I would say: can you give us a quote of an official craftsmen about refinishing/repairing the damaged table ? But Airbnb will say: you can not proove the damage was not there before the guest arrived. So we pay nothing. Case closed, next please !
But personally i would refinish/repair the table myself (which i can manage) or buy a nice rug to cover it.
BTW I hate it when guests do not respect my furniture, especially when it is a special item. Even how many coasters i provide, people still leaving marks everywhere.
I have a feeling it is going to be hard to match the varnish(or whatever you use) to the other tables. You may have to re-finish all the tables.
I would get a quote from a professional and pass the cost on to the guest.
I'd encourage a charge for the refinishing, as I believe that makes the most sense. Can you really expect them to be responsible for things they didn't damage like the other 2 tables in the set. I think everyone would resist that. I would also encourage you to find out how long you can hold the security deposit, as your other website may have some rules about that. Most people who refinish furniture know how to match a color, so find someone fast, get a written estimate and "in good faith" refund a portion of what you are holding until the job is complete, unless it costs more than your security deposit. In that case keep the entire deposit. Dollars to doughnuts, those idiots put a wet diaper on your table. The only couple to appear at my place with a baby, who was never mentioned, did that to a piece of my furniture. Urine evidentally softens varnish.
Sorry this happened to you. Just remember that the guest can contest the charge with their credit card company so have everything documented if they decide to reverse charges and conduct an investigation.
@Alexandra316 Good to hear. And, isn't it an amazing feeling to have an actual REAL (versus conceptual / fictional) security deposit to draw from to pay for damages? I do not understand why Airbnb invites us to enter a 'Security Deposit' amount at all at this point- Up until last year I did read stories every now and then of hosts being reimbursed, but recently this has rarely been the case. Airbnb needs to either start supporting hosts in making a claim against the Security Deposit when warranted, or eliminate the 'Security Deposit' feature, because it is very misleading (as is the Host Protection Guarantee), especially when used to entice new and unsuspecting hosts to list on the platform via stressing that they can have 'Peace of Mind' were some unfortunate 'event' to occur. Like the occasional wild party, meth smoking indoors, furniture damage - Events which somehow become the hosts fault for not 'screening' well enough (I see comments like that frequently here on the forum), even while we are pressured constantly to have 'Instant Book' on.
@Rebecca181I agree.... it seems to be very, very difficult for hosts to collect on the Guarantee now, and the claims process seems to be beyond frustrating and extremely time consuming.
That was kind of at the crux of the last part of my question: rather than being deceptive about the Guarantee, would it be better to just do away with the pretense and get rid of it all together so hosts don't hold out false hope? The claims process seems to be so time consuming with very few results. I wonder if that's because we only hear about the bad experiences here on the board, or if truly no one is getting damage claims paid.
@Alexandra316 Well, perhaps Airbnb could keep the Host Protection Guarantee, but add a helpful note alerting hosts to the fact that if they ever wish to be reimbursed for damages they will be required to traverse the various levels of Dante's Hell; pass through numerous Egytian Bardo states; and be inflicted with creative forms of mental agony that could only find it's physical equivalent in a Medieval torture device. If they did that, then I'd say heck, why not keep it?!?