Manners Matter: How to Respond to Unreasonable Demands

Dear Mary Pat,


My wife and I own some rental cottages locally and have so enjoyed hosting our guests for more than 25 years. We have been fortunate to have wonderful repeat guests and some of them have truly become friends over the years. It was especially shocking for us when we had an incident with some guests last weekend. This couple checked in around 4 pm and we showed them down to their cottage near the water. After about an hour, they called and said they were warm. We told them that if they simply lower the air conditioning, they should be more than comfortable. We also said to please let us know if that didn’t work. We didn’t hear anything else until they called the next day. They left in a huff and said they were miserable all night (which seemed very odd since we also have windows and it was cool and breezy and in the low 60s). They also demanded a full refund. Since they took off before talking to us in person, we went straight to the cottage to see what all the fuss was about. We walked in and it felt like a meat locker. It was very cold. Just to be sure though, I had our service guy come out and check to make sure that the unit was working OK. He said that it was working perfectly. I sent the couple a message through our online booking site and said that there wasn’t an issue and that we wouldn’t be giving a refund. They replied back and said they would sue and give us a terrible review online. I called the booking site helpline to see what they would advise. They said that we were entirely without fault and that they would not recommend giving a refund. I think we should stand firm and not give in to their threats, but my wife is nervous about getting sued and doesn’t want a bad review to ruin our nearly perfect review score online. Any advice you can give would be appreciated.



Rental Woes

Little Sturgeon, Wis.



Dear Rental Woes,


I’m with you, I don’t think you should give in. Threat is exactly the right word. It is a threat: give me what I want, or I’ll make you suffer. I’m sure that there was a solution to this problem other than them leaving. Maybe you could have given them a fan for example. Reasonable people wouldn’t leave in a huff. Reasonable people would have contacted you again to work something out. Leaving, demanding all of their money back and threatening to sue you is the equivalent to a two-year-old throwing a major temper tantrum.

Quite frankly I’m tired of bullies and their threats. Lawsuits aren’t as common of a threat as a bad review online, but it’s still a really immature and lame way of dealing with people and businesses. If it takes an extra five minutes to get your bill at a restaurant (where you had an excellent meal), that doesn’t warrant knocking your review down to two stars. If the grocery store ran out of hot dog buns over a busy weekend, don’t take your smart phone out to complain to the world about it. If there wasn’t enough foam in your latte, I promise your life will go on and you don’t have to try to decimate the coffee shop in the meantime. It’s shocking how people interact with each other these days.

Most bullies are all bluff and no substance. I would bet that is the case here. If these clowns do try to sue you, I hope the judge laughs them out of the courtroom.


Good luck,

Mary Pat

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