Westcoast Woes…with update

Aaah.  Customer service is alive and well in South Africa.  Not.

 

That lovely little spot Mom and I stayed in for her birthday?  Well the location was lovely, but the house itself left a lot to be desired.  So I wrote a letter of complaint. 

 

I’m so utterly taken aback by the complete disinterest – and condescension – of the owner, that I’m a little gobsmacked.

 

In a nutshell, I paid a just below average rate for a shabby house that was filled with the owners crap, had an ant infestation and was littered with dead cockroach carcasses (at least they were dead). Let’s not talk about the kitchen equipment.

 

I sent them a very reasonable letter detailing the issues we had with the house, and asked that they consider some kind of refund to me.

 

And, the response I got back (after some to’ing and fro’ing) was basically a bit of an up-yours:

 

“Seeing that 99.9% of my clients are more than happy with the accommodation, and repeatedly return, I cannot see a reason why I have to refund you.  

 

I also had several other enquiries for those dates where I could have filled the house with satisfied costomers.” (sic)

 

Once again I wonder if “customer service 1.01” is so hard.  Do you know how delighted I would have been if she’d acknowledged my complaint (without implying that I’m some up-my-own-arse city dweller) and offered a free weekend in the house or a 10% refund or something.  Even a proper apology would have been something.

 

Below is the whole correspondence, if you’re bored out of your mind and want to read it. 

 

Sheesh I’m irritated.

 

So, the point being, if you’re looking for accommodation on the Westcoast, and find the website for Strandfontein on the Rocks, don’t be fooled by the pictures of the accommodation. Don’t think you’ll just give it a try because the rate is reasonable.  Just don’t go. It’s not worth it.

 

As the owner says in her email “And least now you know where not to stay”

 

 

 

The Email correspondence:

 

—– Original Message —–

From:  [Dolce]

To:  [Owner of accommodation]

Cc: [mom]

Subject: Complaints about Strandfontein on the Rocks

 

Dear [owner]

 

I’ve been meaning to email you about our stay at the Strandfontein on the Rocks accommodation.  We were really, really disappointed, to the point where we would like to enquire about a refund of sorts. My mother and I don’t typically complain.  We are not “posh” and we don’t expect a huge deal from the places we stay at.  And while we appreciate the location of the property, we were both hugely unimpressed with the accommodation itself.  We paid a significant amount of money to stay at the house, and I certainly wouldn’t ever recommend it to anyone else. 

 

I would definitely recommend that you let the owners know about the state of the property and ask them to make some improvements.  Just small things, like adequate kitchen equipment, cleanliness and a working house, could really make a difference.

 

The disparity between the pictures on the website and the house in reality is huge.  We were expecting clean, pleasant tourist accommodation.  Instead we found a rather grubby house filled with its owners stuff. 

 

We have a number of complaints, which I’ve listed below: 

 

Directions and arrival:

We were not supplied us with adequate directions.  The route to Strandfontein via the coast is over an hour shorter than the route suggested on the website.  Similarly, we asked for directions to the house, which were not provided. We were not locals to the area and battled to find both the village and the house. A stressful start to our holiday!

 

On arrival, the keys were not where they were supposed to be.  We had to wait around for the arrival of the caretaker. There was also a bird trapped in the house, which the caretaker managed to remove.  However, there was then bird faeces all over the house and on the bedding in one room, which we had to clean before we could unpack and relax.

 

The House:

The house itself was not particularly clean. Over the course of the week we found cockroaches in the kitchen cupboards and had to deal with an infestation of ants.  The surfaces of the kitchen were clean, but filthy inside the drawers and cupboards.  The oven and oven trays were covered in grease and the pot holders so dirty we couldn’t use them.

 

The fridge was not on when we arrived (after a four hour drive, we had a significant amount of stuff which needed refrigeration immediately).  When it was turned on, it was set at such a high level, that it froze half our food, including most of our fruit and veg, which we then had to throw away.  We couldn’t get the temperature right and had to deal with either spoiled or frozen food for the whole time we were there.

 

The pots and pans are old, warped and pitted; making them difficult to cook with.  The braai was in such a disgusting state, we chose not to use it either.

 

Likewise, the bathroom surfaces were clean, but the inside of the cupboards and drawers were really dirty and the bath mats have not been cleaned in ages.

 

One of our major issues was with the amount of over people’s stuff (the owners?) all over the house.  It’s not acceptable to have stuff all over a house you are renting out as tourist accommodation.  I couldn’t actually hang clothes in the cupboard of the smaller room off the front of the house as it was filled with boxes and linen and bedding, all covered with dust. 

 

We used the front two bedrooms of the house.  In the master bedroom, the bedside lamp was literally broken in half, which is not only unacceptable, but an electrical hazard.  The cupboard doors are held on with old, sticky, dirty prestik and half the cupboard was closed off with a huge lock and chain.  The hangers provided in this room were also largely broken.

 

The other bedroom’s windows have lost their hold and frequently bang in the wind if open.  For some reason, there was a stool covered with a piece of tatty cloth in the second bedroom, which I assume was left as some kind of bedside table, although it’s height and size made it impossible to use.

 

While you did let us know that there was no DSTV, you didn’t inform us that the reception on the TV was poor to the extent that we only had access to two channels.  This was not a major problem, but we were irritated nevertheless, as we wanted to watch the news regarding the US elections, which was difficult.

 

All in all, definitely not worth the money we paid.

 

If you’d like to discuss this with me further, please don’t hesitate to contact me on the numbers below.

 

Regards,

 

[Dolce]

 

 

From: [owner]
To: [Dolce]
Subject: Re: Complaints about Strandfontein on the Rocks

 

Hi [Dolce]

 

I already received a letter from your mother where she complained via the website.( which is the only complaints I ever received since I am on that website) [Bull, for the record.  My mother hadn’t complained on the website, but she will now!]

 

I am sorry that you were so disappointed with the house.

 

You say the amount you paid was significant.  Is [Rx] per night for 4 people a lot for you?   I paid that per person in Franchhoek!!! 

 

I know the house has a lot of flaws, and that is why the price is very reasonable.    

Funnily enough, most of my visitors come every year and sometimes even twice a year.  At the moment I have a Doctor staying there who books every time he leaves, for the same time the following year.   He says it is much better than his time in Canada!!!    So does the people fron England who comes in January for 2 weeks and also my visitors for Easter. 

 

I know the fridge gave problems and is in the process of being replaced.   A new set of pots and pans have been bought. Also linen. 

 

The Westcoast is very down to earth and some people just appreciate the simplicity of it all.

 

The people who stayed there in August advertised it so much with their friends and has been trying to get a booking since then?  

 

I am living in Plettenberg Bay and have people at Strandfontein who look after the house for me.   I will also take this up with them.

 

Hopefully you will have a better experience at the West Coast when you visit there again.  

At least now you know where not to stay.  

 

Kind Regards

[owner]

 

 

From: [Dolce]

To:  [Owner]

Subject: RE: Complaints about Strandfontein on the Rocks

 

Hi [Owner],

 

You actually gave us the unit for [Rx] a night (which I really appreciated) and we were not four people, we were two.  Quite frankly, [Rx] is on average to what I would pay for 2 people, perhaps not for Franschoek, but certainly for Betty’s Bay, Stanford, Stilbaai…and many of the other small towns up and down our coast. In fact, I’ve stayed at Jacobsbaai on the westcoast in a lovely four bedroom house for [Rx] a night.

 

I also appreciate simplicity.  I don’t want to stay in some fancy place where I can’t relax and really enjoy myself.  I don’t have a lot of money, so weekends away with family are a real treat. And as I said in my original email, I certainly wasn’t expecting anything too fancy.  But I didn’t expect the cockroaches, ants, and all the dust and clutter.

 

I take it you will not be offering me any kind of refund?

 

Regards,

 

[Dolce]

 

From: [owner]
To: [Dolce]
Subject: Re: Complaints about Strandfontein on the Rocks

 

Hi [Dolce]

 

Seeing that 99.9% of my clients are more than happy with the accommodation, and repeatedly return, I cannot see a reason why I have to refund you.  

 

I also had several other enquiries for those dates where I could have filled the house with satisfied costomers.

 

Kind Regards

[owner]

 

Man, oh, man.  I can only shake my head in awe at the foolishness of this woman.

UPDATE:

—– Original Message —–

From: [Dolce]

To: [owner]

Subject: RE: Complaints about Strandfontein on the Rocks

 

Hi [Owner],

 

I’m sorry that you don’t feel that .01 percent of your clientele are worth looking after.  

 

Regards,

 

[Dolce]

 


From: [owner]
To: [Dolce]
Cc: [online accom listing company owner lists through]
Subject: Re: Complaints about Strandfontein on the Rocks

 

Dear [Dolce]

 

I just received a phonecall from [a business owner], who stayed at Strandfontein on the Rocks [in Nov]. 

 

He just wanted to thank me for the super time thay had and complimented me on the cleanliness of the house and said how helpful [the caretaker] was when they needed help with the TV.  

 

You can perhaps phone him on [xxxx] to find out if they had other complaints.

 

Kind Regards 

 

[Owner]

 

—– Original Message —–

From: [Dolce]

To: [Owner]

Subject: RE: Complaints about Strandfontein on the Rocks

 

Hi [Owner],

 

I’m not sure how speaking to your other customers could help me?  I’m sure there are many people who enjoy the house; they might not have personally experienced the issues we did on their visit.

 

[Owner], I take it from our correspondence that you actually own the accommodation?  I’m not personally attacking your home.  To be clear, my mother and I had a nice time.  We enjoyed the location of the house.  And once we’d cleaned away the cockroach carcasses, dealt with the ants and resigned ourselves to not having any fresh fruit or veg because of the fridge, we relaxed and enjoyed Strandfontein.

 

However, I just don’t happen to think that the issues I listed in my original letter are really acceptable in advertised tourist accommodation, no matter how reasonably priced or “simple”.  I’m prepared to accept that you don’t agree with me (or believe me). 

 

I’m not retracting my compliant.  I genuinely believe that the house would be a wonderful place to stay if it was less cluttered with someone else’s belongings, if it was a little cleaner or if the appliances and kitchen equipment were a little less worn out.  

 

But as you said in your letter, I know now where not to stay.

 

Thanks for your response and regards,

 

[Dolce]

 

From: [owner]
To: [Dolce]
Cc: [online accom listing company owner lists through]
Subject: Re: Complaints about Strandfontein on the Rocks

 

Hi [Dolce]

 

Thanks for your reply.  I understand.

 

Take care.

 

[Owner]

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19 thoughts on “Westcoast Woes…with update

  1. Rox says:

    Sheesh, that sucks!

    It’s bad enough that ‘guest houses’ like that are actually leased to unsuspecting tenants, but having customer dis-service like that just takes the cake.

    I think we should all submit your post to Digg, Twitter, Facebook and anywhere else to warn any other potential victims!

  2. kyknoord says:

    I hope you sent them an invoice for your audit fee.

  3. jenty says:

    Holy moly!! At least the rest of us know where not to stay too! Thanks for that Mrs Owner!
    Talk about shooting herself in the foot!

  4. nursemyra says:

    so she admits to knowing about the fridge and the rest of the flaws. and she’s also purchased new linen and pots and pans since your visit? Hmmmmmm….. oh well “at least you know where not to stay” next time.

    Man, that comment really takes the cake.

    What a cow

  5. daisyfae says:

    Perhaps if we just ignore the customers, they’ll all go away and we can get back to our soap operas on the tv-tube…

  6. 302 says:

    It’s tough this customer service thing, thankfully we get them to pay upfront, which makes dealing with the complaints so much easier.

    Your face has gone up – like a wanted person’s at every little spot in that neck of the woods – so if you see accommodation available but then get sheepish looks know why!

  7. Seraphine says:

    i love how the owner described the property as “down to earth.”
    being flighty most of my life, it is only recently that i have thought myself grounded and down to earth. it has been a trait that i envied in others.
    now i know the real meaning of being down to earth; it’s a euphemism for being dirty.
    oddly, i was a bit dirtier when i was flighty. being down to earth has made me a bit of a goody two-shoes. so now I am confused.
    perchance on your next holiday, you should ask the owner beforehand if the property could be described as dirty and down to earth, before you make your reservation.

  8. nursemyra says:

    stay flighty Seraphone 🙂

  9. nursemyra says:

    …ooops i mean Seraphine

  10. Good grief, this is shocking.

    I’m not sure of the translation, but over here (in the UK) we’d call her a ‘f*cking scummy bitch’… well, those of us who were REALLY hacked off would! (Not entirely sure about the “people fron England” being real, either. We have our faults, but we’re not used to living in dirt any more than anyone else and can’t imagine ANYONE would enjoy a holiday in these conditions!)

    YUCK.

  11. ASH says:

    FYI – I am one of the frequent visitors (expat) who has stayed at this property every year during JAN/FEB for the last 6 years.

    Not once during my any of my last 6 stays have I had any complaints to make.

    I have always found the property to be clean and in working order.

    It is situated on one the best locations in Strandfontein and is offered at a very reasonalble price. I have seen other smaller properties in Strandfontein a lot further away from the beach at DOUBLE the price.

    Sure if you are the type of person who looks for dust inside drawers, moan about something as petty as the owners personal belongings in one or two closets or has to moan about only two TV channels (LMAO !), then it is probably not the place for you.

    The property is also rented out at such a cheap rate, to make complaints about the number of TV channels, clutter and ants and then to ask for a refund is petty to the extreme.

    I can highly recommend this property and cannot wait for my next visit to SA in Feb to go chill out a bit next to the Atlantic ocean in the glorious West Coast sun.

  12. clare says:

    Wow. That’s so not cool. It wasn’t like that when we stayed there. I guess we’re the August guests, but I haven’t called to make another booking yet, although I was planning to. I’d better check that the upgrades have been made before I venture out. Thanks for the update.

  13. Paul says:

    We own the house adjacent to this house and I can categoricly state that this house is the best in the whole of Strandfontein. We celebrated a 50th birthday party on 17-19 October and 8 of our friends stayed in the house. Everything was in a good working order and the house was clean. None of my friends had any complaints – they all wrote down the phone number of the owner to make a booking for themselves in future. The house has a perfect setting 5m from the sea with a million dollar view over land, waves and ocean.

    But I suppose the complainant was too busy to open cupboards and looking for TV channels to enjoy the view and setting the house has to offer. It is a pity that a little bit of dust ruined her whole holiday but that was her choice and reveals her outlook on life. I can definitively recommend the house to anybody and the popularity of the house would indicate that at least 95% of the guest would agree with me.

  14. nursemyra says:

    hey dolce – coming over for t shirt friday?

  15. Dolce says:

    @ Rox > Ta Rox. I’m just wondering why my right to expect a certain level, no matter what I pay, is in question. Eish.

    @ Kyk > Oh, there will be an accounting.

    @ Jents > The internet can be an echo-y place.

    @ Nurse M > I think she thought I was personally attacking her (hence the update). So, I take her comment in that context. But it’s not very encouraging if you’re trying to build a relationship with a dissatisfied client.

    @ Dais > Bingo.

    @ 302 > *cackle* Sadly, ’tis so.

    @ Seraphine > and I kinda resent that because I feel if you’re paying something (anything) you can expect a certain standard, that I’m some kind of posh toff. *shakes head*

    @ Kit > the interesting thing was that I wasn’t put out by any individual thing (except the ‘roaches), but the whole collective experience, including how she handled my complaint, has made me react.

    @ Ash > thanks for your comment. I agree. The location is amazing and the house itself is fine. But I disagree that just because the rate is reasonable, that I should just accept my food being ruined by an old fridge (as you know, there is not a close Checkers or Spar to pop into to stock up), bird poo on my pillow case and dead cockroaches in the pots and pans. As I say above, all the individual things (except the roaches) are not things that typically would bother me. But collectively, from the Owners lack of assistance in helping us with directions, to the large number of small issue in the house and finally the way she handled my complaint, are not what I’d expect from any business I pay for a service.

    @ Clare > still enjoyed the holiday, once we’d dealt with the issues. Just a pity the Owner seems to think I don’t have the right to complain.

    @ Paul > Thanks for adding your comment. The house is in a fantastic location. And if you know what you’re expecting and you’re happy to pay for that, I think it would be a wonderful place for a holiday. But my experience was not great and my expectations were not met. I also don’t think the owner handled my complaint particularly well. But our communication is now resolved and I just feel other people should know that the website doesn’t tell the whole story so that they can make an informed choice.

    @ Nurse M > It might have to be a T-shirt Monday 🙂

  16. TheHman says:

    Heya ok I have never been to the house in question but have been in similar diggs and I must say that when you arrive and do not find what you expect from an advert it does colour the whole experience for you. Being in the customer services industry this whole nasty episode could have easily been avoided. A simple oh dear I do apologise for this, we have taken your comments into regard and this is what we have done to correct it, I do hope you will try us again to make sure that things have improved. this is what i got from an owner in the free state and although I would not go back I felt better knowing that they acknowledged my right to complain. There may be many people that go there without complaints, and you may enjoy the stay, but how would you feel if you received such a response?

  17. egadfly says:

    I love the angry defensive tone of the owner and some others. “Well, people from over 4 billion countries have stayed here and loved it, so you should too! All the other guests are professors of quantum linguistics and Oscar winning actresses, so what right have you to disagree with them? Other houses cost squillions of rand per hour, so you should put up with anything in this one! What an ungrateful whiner you are for complaining about plutonium in the sink and crocodiles under the bed! In my day, all we wanted in a holiday house was fresh air and sunshine – all this talk about needing ‘walls’ and ‘floors’ and ‘a clean spoon’ is dreadful snobbery and you should be ashamed!”

  18. Dolce says:

    @ TheHman > ExACTly! Thanks for the comment.

    @ Egadfly > Aah, trust you to articulate how I’m feeling so accurately. I will not feel ashamed. I WILL NOT. 🙂

  19. Seraphine says:

    sometimes dolce, there’s nothing comforting or inspirational to say. so really, your role is to be there. give lots of hugs. tell those you love that you care about them. cook. clean. drive. hug. listen. share stories. get blankets out of the closet. run to the store. give another hug. and another. and another.

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