Thankfully I haven't yet activate my listing because we had a power outage in my area from 2 AM to 11 AM. This had me thinking what if this happened when a guest was staying. Would you issue a full or partial refund? What if there was a moderate outage of just one or two hours? Knock off 10%?
For me, it depends on the impact on the guest. For some guests, it is an adventure and no big deal - I would still offer a small refund or gift certificate of some kind, just to ensure good will. On the other hand, even a small outage can be very disruptive and disappointing to some. For example, I had a couple here and the woman had been planning this 'surprise' weekend for her fiance for months. The transformer blew and we lost power for a few hours, including to the guest hot-tub. She was VERY disappointed. I decided to offer a full refund in this case. She still knocked a star off because the power went out (something beyond my control) so I learned my lesson: Unless they demand a full refund and I choose to issue it, I will only offer a partial refund in future.
I have listings in places that seasonally have hurricanes, tropical storms, and thunderstorms. Personally, I think that the host sent @Anna-Marie20 a very appropriate message considering that Hurricane Isaias is making its way to the US southeastern coast. If I were still going to take the trip, it is incumbent on me to ensure that I pack flashlights, batteries, radios, backup chargers, bottled water and have food provisions that could get my family through a few days without power.
I would offer a discount for a power outage/utility interruption only if: 1) I was the cause, e.g., forgot to pay the bill, blew the main circuit and the hardware store is closed; or, 2) I didn't/couldn't provide essential services, e.g., generator/pump was faulty, I forgot to get fuel for the generator/filter for the pump, batteries in LED lanterns were drained.
Ironically, since it is storm season, my husband is working on a quick connect plug for our generator (we don't have a whole house generator that automatically switches on during an electricity outage). In the event there is a power outage that is longer than a couple of hours, the generator can be plugged into a sub-panel with breakers for essential electrical items: the refrigerator, the router/modem, ceiling lights, and sockets in the kitchen and main living space. This surely beats having long-a$$ extension cords snaking through the space, and leaving the door/window cracked open so the cords can connect to the generator.
For my guesthouse in St. Lucia, I have it written under the Other Things to Note section, I state the following:
"This is a small island, so responses to issues regarding utilities or other services are not available 24 hours a day, and may take more than a day to resolve.
When the island water service is interrupted, water is supplied by our on-site tanks, and the pressure will be less than what's provided by the water company."
After reading this that, in an attempt to right-set guest expectations, I am going to update my house rules to list exactly what services will be available after a major disruption to utility service, and their responsibilities to conserve during those periods.
Thanks to all of you, because you all always make the lightbulb come on when I am wandering in the dark.
I am going to ask my fellow hosts with properties in tropical areas what their policies are for these types of situations. @Sarah977, I know that you contributed to this discussion last year, but I didn't read the thread. @Fred13, you have your own island. What do you two say to your guests about utility service interruptions? Under what circumstances do/would your provide a refund?
@Debra300 Your post are always so inquisitive, you obviously like to learn, wonderful attribute.
The reality of our island is that it is off-grid to start with. Everything runs on solar anyway.
So we are not dependent on anything that happens on the mainland, whose power varies greatly here in Belize. Also, the power company announces 4-12 hr power interruptions all the time on a moments notice; being in the mainland during summer in the tropics, imagine if fans, A/C, etc stops unexpectedly for unknown hours.
I now do not 'warn' my guests that something may go wrong, I use to, I don't now. I just make sure it doesn't by having backup to the backup, besides OR I can be at the island in 20 minutes.
Nowadays we do not have to even go there; all they have to do now is push a button IF the power goes off (fried inverter or batteries drained) and presto, everything is back on. The generator we use ($2000US) is a Honda 3000is inverter type (noise factor 48db (normal conversation 55db+), which is the quietest generator on Earth; meaning IF the generator has to be on, they would hardly hear it.
IF I was in the mainland, I would have such a back up generator on site, already hooked up, and all the guest has to do is press a car-key clicker, throw a switch (grid > shore) and power is on. It is already wired to the house. Surprisingly most of my guests are quite handy and on the few occasions over 5 years they have ran the generator (3+ days of cloud cover) they didn't even mention it till I pick them up days later.
This scenario then would make you look like a hero, and simply bypasses the local yokel power company. It also eliminates the need to lower their expectations; but upon arrival you could always say: "Its the tropics, power can be inconsistent, but we got you covered". No need to mention refunds.
P.S. The only generator type to use for such a situation is an inverter generator (low noise), the standard type (combustion type) are cheaper but unbearable, noise wise. https://powerequipment.honda.com/generators/inverter-generators.
Thanks for providing your input. Yes, I find the community a great place where we all can exchange information and learn.
In St. Lucia, the electricity, internet and water services are frequently interrupted. Sometimes someone will drive around the night before, and make announcements via a bullhorn, but many instances ares unexpected. We have two Champion inverter generators at each of our property locations, and run them on LP gas: https://www.championpowerequipment.com/product/100263-3400-watt-dual-fuel-inverter/. At 59db, they are not as silent as your Honda, but we chose them, because they can provide twice the power generation they piggy-backed together. I'm not concerned about anyone complaining about the noise, given that when the electricity or water service goes out, it's a welcome sound to hear a generator or water pump running. We thought about solar polar for the guesthouse (we have it for the water tank), but determined that our current age that we wouldn't live to see a return on the investment given how the local power company does its power buy-back program.
In Georgia, the electricity temporarily goes out for various reasons often enough to warrant backups. Typically, it's due to technicians doing work in the area, a tree fell on power lines or the substation (our place is in a highly wooded area), or an outage due to storms. We've used the generator just once, and it was for only a short while, because the electricity service resumed. However, Americans are pretty spoiled, and start to get uneasy if power is off for more than 15 minutes.
I like the Champions , and fairly quiet. Noise doubles every 7db, as a point of reference. And cool they can go in parallel; they are hybrids, can run on either gas or LP right?
A little tricky with foreign import duties jacking the price, but today solar is indeed awesome. The local solar people quoted me $14,000; I did it myself for $3,800 and bought the components from him. Yes, it is one of those things that the initial price is the expensive part. I set up system for local island owners and for some villagers. Belize's power comes from Mexico, and incredibly expensive, why makes going solar 'worth it'.
I was just in St. Lucia this past December, I would have loved to split a cup of cafe with you folks. . 🙂
Yes, we're pretty satisfied with the Champion generators. They can run on gas or LP, but we prefer propane, because it make the machine less noisy, it's easier to store, and doesn't emit fumes like gas. We did a load test yesterday operating the generators in parallel, and running the refrigerators, lights, router/modem, laptops, security cameras and alarm systems, and TVs. The peak usage was at 15%. We should be able to run off of one 30 pound tank for almost a full day based upon the literature from Champion.
It's great that you were able to install the solar system for a reasonable cost. We've not ruled it out entirely, but will require additional research. It's possible that we will have to buy the components in the US and ship them down. Electricity in St. Lucia is ~$0.30USD p/kw. Which is 150% more than the $0.12USD p/kw we pay in Atlanta.
Please do give me a shout if you pass through St. Lucia again. Were you there because of sailing?
First time on a cruise (2018) and 2nd time just visiting; if ever leave Belize, St.Lucia is our next place, liked it that much.
Our electricity is at $0,27USD p/kw, so about same as you. Btw, we amazon many parts now and go through a 'broker' and including delivery, customs, etc is just 20% above Amazon cost, that was a revelation, for years we thought it wasn't worth it and too complicated.
I'm in the market for a new generator, so thanks @Fred13 - this is very useful. My generators start automatically (except when they don't, thank you, Maine 😂). Will definitely talk to my electrician about the Honda.
@Fred13 Thank you, and yes, but the cursèd full-time job in New York requires my presence here!
Close friends from New York who have rented a house near mine in Maine for 20 years just bought their own this summer. I told them to be prepared to be asked by everyone: But how often will you get up there? They told me they started hearing that one before the closing 🤣 Many New Yorkers have houses in Maine, Vermont, the Adirondacks, etc., that can't be weekend places. When the children were still at home we only went for August. Now I probably go five or six times a year, usually for long stretches, occasionally for a long weekend.
How cool. I was raised in Long Island and our summer cabin was in the Catskills (Phoenicia), but every year the whole familia (5 kids) would go to Maine for a month, awesome summers.
Then all of a sudden over a two-year span we all dispersed to colleges in far-away states and countries, the military, etc; but our commonality still remains those summers.
@Debra300 While we often lose the power here for a few hours during the summer thunderstorms, I've actually never had the power go out when I had a guest in residence. This is in large part due to the fact that summer isn't tourist season here and I almost never get bookings during the rainy season-it's just too hot and humid. If tourists come here during the summer, they are looking for a place with AC, a pool, and close walking distance to town, which isn't what I have on offer.
So I don't say anything about it in my listing info, and if I do have guests when the power goes out, because I home-share, I just talk to guests about issues that might come up very casually, as if it's no big deal. That's how I talk to them about the insects that are endemic here and that's how I'd talk to them about the power if it went out.
But I think I have a fairly unique situation, from all the posts I read, in that I get guests who are generally seasoned travellers, have put up with far more difficult situations than anything they might experience at my place and simply aren't complaining, unadaptable people. They seem to view travelling as an adventure where you can't always predict what might happen.
A couple years ago I was having problems with the local water commission here- they weren't sending me water for a week at a time (crook in charge of the system, since fired, now I get water on a regular basis). I was having to go up on the roof to check my water tank to make sure if i did a load of wash, that there would still be enough water to shower and flush the toilet. I had a guest here and checked the tank one morning to find that it was almost empty. I can call a water delivery guy to fill my tanks, but it's not only an expense, it's a hassle to drag their huge heavy hose up to the roof. My neighbors, who are also my friends and are on an endless well, had told me if I ever needed water, to just hook up to their outside tap. That sounds easier than it is, as I have to attach 3 long heavy hoses together and drag them out across the property across from me , to fill my cistern.
So I told my guest, who was a really cool gal, to be a bit conservative with water for a few hours while I went through this routine. She asked if she could help, so we did it together and it took half the time it normally does.
@Sarah977, thanks for sharing. There was a major break in St. Lucia's main waterline at the dam, and we were without water for two weeks. We have two very large water tanks, and were good for about 10 days. Since we live at the top of a hill, our area was the last to get water service resumed, and we had to use a water hose to fill a couple of barrels. Fortunately, the next day our water service slowly started to return, and we had enough water for new guests that were arriving later that day.
If we had been unable to procure water for our guests, I would have provided a refund or agreed for them to cancel.