A gut check for people pleasers, perfectionists, and refunders

(I am guilty of being all 3, for the record)

I am currently staying at a 4 bedroom duplex (strangers on other side of building) beachfront rental on the NC coast that my partners family booked. At least one thing in each of the rooms is broken - fans, tvs, power outlets not working, etc. The beds are rocks, the linens and towles (1 provided per person for a WEEK) are hospitals quality at best and when we arrived, were just sitting in a big plastic bag outside each door for us to make the beds. Some were still wet. The oven doesn’t get hotter than 250 degrees, even though it reads higher. No toiletries, paper towels, “welcome baskets”, or ANYTHING remotely special. While I’ve spent the past few days silently horrified that no one else seems to think this is awful, it has occurred to me that rental agencies just get away with things like this. No AirCover for 72 hours, no threat of bad reviews and a reduction in bookings.

I think it is probably pretty safe to say that most people have endured much worse than our listings. I’d go as far as to say the 1-5% of complainers have some built up angst after a bad experience they couldn’t share with the world.

My take away: it is not us.


Probably a higher % but sometimes a little laughter helps when you can’t do anything else.

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I hope you’re contacting the host with a list of everything that isn’t working or is broken. The oven is especially important - salmonella for undercooked meat can kill someone.

Good luck


I’m at the Jersey Shore
and I too was horrified to find out that most vacation rentals don’t provide sheets, towels, TP, paper towels, etc. Guests have to bring their own and it seems like it’s the norm. I provide all of that and I can’t even imagine not providing such essentials.


I know there are places, it seems mostly at beaches on the East coast of the US, and at lakeside resort areas in the US, and other places of those types in the world, where it is indeed traditional for guests to bring their own linens and towels. They are the sort of places that people drive to, so it isn’t such a big deal as one might think- no one is having to pack that stuff in a suitcase and pay for baggage on a flight. It makes the rentals less expensive than if there were several loads of laundry for the hosts to deal with, which, as long as guests accept this state of affairs to start with, I don’t find anything wrong with at all. As always, it’s a matter of setting clear expectations.

@jane1234 Sounds very ill-cared for, and broken, non-working stuff is never okay, but as you say, it was booked by the in-laws, who may not be well-versed in how to assess a place when looking for something to book. For instance, how are the reviews? Are toiletries offered in the amenities list (they can’t be expected if they are not). Does the listing info make it clear that guests need to provide for themselves as far as products are concerned? And was the price quite cheap comparatively? If it works out to $20/$30 bucks a night per person, you can’t expect “extras” like welcome baskets. Too many guests expect the Ritz for the price of a Motel 6 room.

But I do think you are correct in that most of us offer way nicer digs than a lot of stuff that’s out there. As one of my guests said to me in private feedback, “That was one the best Airbnb stays I’ve had. You wouldn’t believe the crap out there some people actually want to charge money for.”


I have to be a little careful about communicating all of the obvious major issues (especially the oven, I am with you on that) because I don’t want to come across as hard to please, ungrateful, or elitist. From research, it is a property management company that has 100s of houses and rates them on a scale - Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Emerald. This is Gold. I shudder to think of the state Bronze is in. No place for people to leave reviews, no detailed description. My partner is out back deep cleaning the disgusting grill. $110-$125 per person per night, 8 adults 2 kids 5 bedrooms.

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Well, you should certainly expect a better state of affairs than you have there for $110-$125 per person per night. Personally, I would never book a place run by a property management company with 100s of listings.

There may be no place to leave a review on their own booking site, but you could give them a well-deserved warning bad review on Trip Advisor, or similar sites.

Even if they listed on Airbnb, Airbnb seems to let these big property management companies get away with things they would suspend or delist private hosts for. I’ve seen some of these property manager listings on the first page of search with 3.5 ratings or even worse.

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I knew that slum lords existed in NYC but it seems like they also exist at vacation rentals. That’s not hospitality : (

Slumlords seem to exist everywhere. There was a guy who was subleasing a grotty little cabin right behind me as an str. (the landlord was aware of the sublets and he got a cut). The place is ugly to start with, but at least if it was clean and cheap, that might be all some guests would really care about. But there was garbage all over the yard, a pile of empty beer bottles on the side of the house, unkempt gardens, guests would appear and be standing around trying to phone him, and waiting for him to show up to give them the key, and he was never on time. And his guests would sometimes appear at my gate 5 minutes after checking in, asking if they could borrow some toilet paper, as he didn’t leave any. He didn’t last long- got terrible reviews and either closed down the listing or was booted off. There’s some nice long-termers in there now and that subletter is no longer involved.

I once struck up a conversation with a young single mom from Sweden with an infant, who had booked that place for a week’s vacation, who I ran into outside one day. When I told her I rented a single room in my home on Airbnb, she said she wished she had known, as she would have cancelled the other place and stayed with me. She said it was just as gross inside as outside, but it was check-out day the next morning, anyway. Although I only host one guest in a private room with a single bed, I would have let her stay, as her baby was really an infant who she slept with- only a few months old.

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@muddy @Ritz3 When I was a child and we visited the Eastern Shore or Ocean City (U.S.) this was expected. I used to cringe at the “crunchy” mattresses and hated the “pre-stay scrubbing” we had to undertake. There was no such thing as walking into a place that was “hotel clean” (if that even exists). It’s mind boggling to me that this state of affairs still exists.

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I guess if they’re cheap enough, people are willing to accept that scenario. I can well imagine a child, who just wants to jump in the water and run around and play, being dismayed at having to to pitch in and help clean the place up. :laughing: Crunchy mattresses sounds awful.

I’ve read posts from hosts in Scandinavia, Germany, etc, who have said this “self-catering” ocean or lakeside cottage model is also quite traditional in their country.

A few years back, Airbnb made linens and towels mandatory, but there was such a huge outcry from hosts in these places, saying that they couldn’t possibly host if they had to provide that, that Airbnb reneged on it. In some cases, it was quite understandable. The hosts said that their places were pretty remote, they didn’t have enough water to support washing linens for a place that sleeps 10 people, there were no laundromats nearby and if there were any linen services in the area, they were hugely expensive.

I wouldn’t mind bringing my own bedding and towels to a place I was driving to, but I wouldn’t want to also have to clean the place.


Wow. I feel really good about our cabin after reading this thread. And here I get all embarrassed if our guests call me and tell me the propane is out on the little fire pit. “I’ll be there in 20 minutes to swap out that tank!”

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That sounds like a NC island rental. (My people)

There is no excuse for those bad beds. They did not become uncomfortable overnight.

Unless you are close to Wilmington or Jacksonville support services/people are scarce. Even in those areas there are simply not enough.

Those nice uncrowded beaches means there is not an abundance of locals living close. Plus, Oct-March 70% of the STR related jobs disappear so not reliable year round employment.

The turnovers are fast & furious with no time to check everything. Rentals are Sat to Sat or Sun to Sun so no orphan nights available so someone can nip in & do repairs.

If guests don’t report broken items, the owners won’t know until they are in the rental in October.

Nothing is provided. No “in case you forgot something basket”, no plastic wrap, no toiletries, etc. It all disappears by the 2nd guest and it’s one more thing to stock during the already tight turnover time.

I’m glad they dropped off a bag of linens. Wet is bad but hopefully there was a clothes dryer. Most places are bring your own.

Friends had a 1960’s beach house (slept 10) on Topsail Island. (Sold it earlier this year) They were two of the few owner/hosts who were local & did their own cleaning & maintenance.

They were in the rental every Saturday they couldn’t keep everything in perfect order. It was all they could do to drop off clean linens, take away the dirty, clean two kitchens, two full bathrooms, outside shower, 5 bedrooms, two living areas & huge deck. (Dual living areas-1 up 1-down).

I’ve pontificated enough. The NC barrier island rentals are a different world.
(Which is part of the reason I ended up buying in North Myrtle Beach)


Angry, poorly paid cleaners. Owners not in the area. :((
You should report the rental agency!

I also supply everything, however I’m staying at an expensive rental now which is absolutely the minimum with tons of rules overly used and overly scented sheets. Absolutely no coffee, plastic wrap, minimal dated furniture, on rule even states “ this home is not furnished per Airbnb so don’t compare”. However look at the view, you can’t really complain:)