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Letter to the Editor: Reading Between the Lines of Rental Reviews

As summer winds down, kids head back to school and vacation rentals start to slow down, let’s talk about the elephant on the peninsula: VRBO/Airbnb. There are many lovely rental properties in Door County and, let’s admit it, there are some dumps. It doesn’t seem to matter – the rates are high for both. The photos on the internet make rooms look bright and spacious, but objects in the mirror are not always as they appear.

Have you ever noticed how almost all of them, whether palace or hut, get five- star reviews? How could that be, you ask? Based on feedback from renters around us, whether in condos or stand-alone cottages, all of them feel coerced into leaving four-to-five-star ratings lest they be called out by the property owner for “hurting their business,” or shunned when trying to rent future properties for leaving their honest opinion. Windows that don’t open, broken appliances, lack of basic amenities like Kleenex (because you can use toilet paper, per the owner) – you can’t complain about these. It appears to speak to the times we live in, where you can have an opinion, as long as it agrees with mine. Apparently, the only way to read between the lines is when there is a lack of reviews. How very unfortunate that we cannot get accurate information from the rental sites, but everyone just wants to make a buck.

Tourism is the life’s blood of Door County summers. Let’s hope bad rental practices don’t send people to Michigan.

Jody Suttie
Jacksonport, Wisconsin