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Power Outage RIGHT NOW - what would you do?

So the guests vacated and are gone. They have asked for a refund. I’m not sure what they mean specifically (they stayed last night) so we’ll have to see where it all shakes out. I have asked that they cancel the reservation (a couple hours ago) so it can free the calendar and I can attempt to turn the home and get it rented last minute (at a deep discount, of course). They have not replied to that request (which is strange as our communications earlier had been almost immediate throughout this fiasco).

Locals are saying that power is starting to come back as we speak. But it appears we’re still down at the house that was vacated. It really sucks that the guests are gone. Were I in their position, I would have tried to stay in the region and wait it out through the day (there’s lots of fun stuff to do in the area, even on a Holiday) but they didn’t want to wait. I don’t blame them either way, really. Just awful. . .

@Annet3176 This is extremely inspiring and you are exactly right. I can’t tell you much this advice and these thoughts mean to us.

Secondly, I had no idea about exactly what we signed up for regarding refunds. I was always under the (false) assumption that it was up to us to refund (or not) and then Airbnb would decide to refund over our heads from their coffers if we opted to not. Turns out, it appears these guys are in line for a refund (from me) regardless. I’ll do whatever Airbnb says, really. Leaving all this cash on the table will really suck.

@gypsy Really love these ideas too. This is really our first situation like this on this listing in this market. We have another “mountain” listing (we’ve had for 2 years now). They do PSPS but it’s so rare, it didn’t warrant the cost of a generator and we’ve been correct about that so far. Maybe not with this place. . . At a minimum we need to get that camping stove like you mentioned. I also just spent almost $700 to get 3 of these. I hope this demonstrates to the next guests that we’re more on it than we already are. I hope you guys like this thing below too!

Investing in a comprehensive generator solution of some kind is NOT off the table, but I’m horrified of taking those giant steps and then just signing up for a maintenance nightmare if/when it comes time to actually use it. And then when we need it, what if it doesn’t work anyway? Oy. . .

Thanks for the condolences @Jefferson . I think you’re right that we need to step it up to stay at this price point. I didn’t see something like this coming and that’s 100% on me.

If you can CANCEL those UPS devices, I would do so ASAP. I applaud that you are looking to “do something” but would recommend you take a bit of time to PLAN. Not just jump on things.
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I spent 25 years in IT. Those small UPS devices are designed to protect and keep live basic electronic stuff like Routers, Laptops, TVs, etc. They are not designed to keep your fridge and electric heaters running (or anything else with a high amp draw).
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At $20-25, butane camping stoves are excellent deal. You see these at “omelet stations” at hotels. We actually used them every day for some 4 years until we got natural gas and a full new kitchen build-out.
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I would recommend looking into propane solutions. They are reasonable, reliable and safe. That just leaves the need for “some kind of generator” - that only has to keep a few things running.

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Their phones are probably out of charge.

You signed a (digital) contract, without actually reading what you were signing up to?

Never a good idea.

JF

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Hope you read the reviews for those Sinewave UPS System. They look like pieces of junk that don’t last very long.
Don’t think it’s an answer to your power outages.

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No heat, no hot water, no lights, no fridge, can’t cook, can’t bathe, no internet, can’t charge up their phones.
Full refund.

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As soon as it became apparent that it wasn’t a minor outage, I’d have been on to Airbnb looking for a refund, and either scouring the area for alternative accommodation that had power or looking elsewhere.

Given the OP’s attitude towards the situation, maybe @Brian_R170 was right, sadly.

JF

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I don’t see an attitude problem(see below). I see an ignorance problem. He just didn’t know, even though he should have. He’s posting here about it and taking the hard advice well. Yeah, we all “should have known” and read the TOS top to bottom and committed to memory. The truth is most of us don’t.

No, very few do, but what we do is make sure we know the important stuff, i.e. about the money, and cancellation policies and their relevant conditions are right up there.

JF

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Something I’ve been wondering about is how hosts’ STR insurance is affected during times of lengthy outages. We often have outages in the summer months because of hurricanes and tropical storms but they are usually just a a couple of hours and of course, they are (I suppose) classed as ‘acts of God’.

But when a power company cut the power as a damage limitation measure, is that seen as in the same way? I ask because guests who are not 100% careful using candles, gas stoves and so on surely increases the possibility of damage to the property?

So we have an unlikely ally (Airbnb and their own policy) and I think nobody has been 100% correct above. Like an airport gate agent, some Airbnb agents can do whatever they want when interacting with them regarding how this ends. In taking a hard look at the TOS, it was Airbnb’s own words that gave us (in the words of the agent we spoke with) our own prerogative to not refund the guest at all.

This was the underlined portion/exception of the TOS below (where it says things are COVERED for extenuating circumstances for a refund) that we spoke to in order to cement our position:

Since this area is VERY prone to shut offs this time of year (which other posters above have alluded to and I can assure you is the case) then we are safe to NOT refund the guest based on the the underlined clause. Turns out that the guest should have known, I put it in my listing description, it’s in my house rules as a reminder, and he’s entitled to no refund. Again, this was confirmed by the agent we spoke to just now.

Meanwhile, based on the recommendations above, I decided to overrule my wife and refund the guest 2 nights of the stay. This was actually further than the agent said we should go in her opinion (she felt one night was more than enough, and again, we could have given zero refund). But I felt that based on your guys’ opinions, that would be the right thing to do.

My wife is furious with the whole thing (she’s a little harder than me). But this is where it’s landed at this point.

I was able to reach my crew and they are going to turn the home today (sans power). And we’ll see if we can recover anything for tonight/tomorrow assuming the power goes back on. And if anyone happens to book, we’ll certainly let them know that there’s no power at the moment! Hard to say if anyone will be looking for a place to stay on Thanksgiving night this late in the game.

We women tend to be the tough ones. :wink:

However, it depends on each hosts’ situation when it comes to deciding what to do. Some hosts, for example, are renting out a home they intend to retire to in a couple of years.

Other hosts are building up a longstanding business. In the case of the former, hosts can be a bit tougher with refunds in the power outage scenario.

Hosts who have built up a longstanding business and who are still doing so want good guests to return and recommend to their friends.

Every host is different. That being said, I’m on the side of giving a refund because the guests didn’t get any of the amenities advertised.

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Really, you’d try to book another without knowing the power is back on? You want to set yourself up for a repeat?

I wouldn’t be able to stand the stress of this situation.

Picture this, these 6 people were coming together to have Thanksgiving maybe doing a lot of cooking, then after 3 hours nothing. They probably tried to be hopeful the power would come back on overnight and when it didn’t, they left.
Their 3 days were ruined.

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@JohnnyLounge21 Is your wife aware that not refunding them anything, considering the circumstances, is pretty much a slam dunk for a 1* review?

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Great question.

We have a tactic we have used several times in the past where we manipulate the refund process that requires the guest to wait 14 days before the refund is administered. It puts both parties in control during this purgatory period. Every time we’ve done this in the past, the guest doesn’t review us - waiting for their refund.

Again, it is manipulative and it’s very stressful for all parties because neither are in control.

Once the 14 days are up, we are in complete control and we administer the refund we want to give knowing the bad review turd is off the table. It’s harsh, but this is a business.

This time, I took everyone’s softer advice and want WAY past what my wife wanted. We gave them 2/3 of their money back out of the gate, they are now in COMPLETE control. They can give us a bad review if they wanted. Oh boy, I’m in DEEP trouble with her if that happens. :frowning:

I also didn’t mention that the guest booked non-refundable. The sort where you save 10% by booking that way. My wife DESPISES it that they save a little money and still get a refund for any reason (including above). I’m going to likely end that future argument by having us get rid of the non-refundable option for guests. . .

Yes, I’ve never seen the non-refundable option as something of any advantage to hosts, as I’ve read several times of Airbnb CS refunding anyway.

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That is pretty harsh IMO.

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Sorry, meant to qualify “attitude”. In my opinion, if you choose to host in area known for power outages, then you should make sure your guests have access to the same protections as folks who live in that area full time have. For example, alternative cooking source, propane, butane or whatever, alternative power source, backup generator, solar etc.

Expecting a guest to arrive in late November and find zero heating, zero hot water etc and than essentially turn round and say “tough”, because it’s in my house rules is not the mark of a good host.

Exactly.

Nail on head. Even when guests don’t necessarily expect a refund, e.g. on unused nights when they’ve chosen to leave early (two recent ones are Covid related and weather related), we generally let them know that if they come back, we’ll either discount their stay or credit a night.

In the case of the Covid related one, the guests bailed early to get home before an imminent lock down in Barcelona and the others wanted to get back to Andorra before a snow storm hit. As a result of being empathetic and fair, we have had a further 23 nights booked direct between the pair of them, by the guests and folks recommended by the guests.

Short term monetary gains are all well and good, but long term gains far outweigh a few quid screwed out of guests who had a shit time through no fault of their own.

JF

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My response to refunds is based on “How would I want to be treated”.
In this case I would want a refund for the unused nights because it wasn’t as advertised. Not your fault, not their fault….just one of those Crap Happens situations. Unhappy guests who will tell all and sundry about the awful, greedy Airbnb host who stole their money.
I think you have done the right thing and I hope you have reasonable guests!

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As others have said, get a jenny. You don’t have to have a whole house, installed, auto start system. If it’s infrequent as you say, you can probably get a fairly quiet Honda portable, that will provide enough watts for a refrigerator, lamps, phone chargers, a couple of fans, and the furnace blower. Have a system ready to go, with extension cords and splitters ready, and a plan in place (“Place the generator in the driveway, away from the building and flammables. Run the heavy duty power cord through the kitchen window. Use the three way splitters and extension cords to plug in the fridge, and up to six lamps or fans…” (you’ll need to do the math to figure out wattages).

For the price of about 60% of that one booking, you can have a system in place that shows at least you’re being proactive. Leave it up to the guest if they want to go through the work of stringing cable (based on predictions of when the power returns). If they’re unsure of how, and want to leave and cancel, maybe it’s worth a two hour drive to you, to come in and set it up for them. Or maybe you can find a local handy person who could come in for a hundred bucks.
Seems like it could be worth it. Best of luck with it! Let us know how it goes this time.

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This is the bottom line. It sucks for everyone and the host perhaps should know better but then again, he’s here trying to do better. Lots of hosts aren’t even googling solutions to problems, they are just underserving guests which hurts all of us.

At least these US hosts can deduct the pain from their taxes, the guests can’t.

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