A Horrible Google Review from a nasty customer!
You can’t please all of the people all of the time!
We had a guest stay during hurricane season in the fall of 2020, in the midst of the pandemic.
2020 was a very difficult year for all vacation rental owners, in one way or another, and it was quite trying for us. Every guest who stayed with us that year was highly prized and appreciated, however one stood out because no matter how hard we tried, it seemed we just couldn’t make her happy. Were there some challenges with her stay? Yes, there were, but not the kinds of things one would consider insurmountable. We bent over backward in doing everything we could to meet her needs, which became fairly demanding over the course of the week.
Finally, after adding an extra day to her reservation which we didn’t charge her for, she left ‘early’, not using the extra free night, and claimed that the villa had made her sick, forcing her to depart sooner than planned. As proof of how the villa was ‘not clean’ and made her ill, she stood up on top of (I can only imagine) a bar stool, holding her phone camera high in the air to take a picture of the interior of a return air duct for the HVAC system. Given the height the picture was taken at, without a ladder, there was simply no way to take such a picture safely.
She claimed that the duct was dirty, which it likely was. Over the past 10 months since it had been cleaned, I would expect that a good layer of dust would build up in it, as it does in every home. The thing to keep in mind however, is that this was a return air duct, meaning that the air was being drawn into it, to be sent to the HVAC unit where it would be cooled and filtered before being pumped back into the house.
But this photo was being used as a justification to claim that the villa had “made her sick” because, according to her, all of that dust and dirt was being blown into the home, and clearly the home wasn’t being properly maintained. She didn’t understand HVAC systems well enough to realize that no air from that vent was entering the home. And when I asked her about the ducts that supplied air, she told me they were clean.
This wasn’t the only claim of problems that she made, but it was the one upon which she based a request for a refund, which I refused. In response, she contacted her Credit Card Company to file a dispute with them, claiming she shouldn’t have to pay the charges on her CC account. Well, I suspect that her CC company has likely had some past run-ins with her, because they contacted ME directly (highly unusual) to inquire about her claim. I provided them with a copy of the documentation for the booking, other information, including our Terms and Conditions, and THEY refused to proceed with her claim. In over 35 years of being in business, I’ve never seen something like that happen before.
Within a day of her claim being refused by the credit card company, a 1-Star Review showed up on our Google My Business Account. That wouldn’t be such a big deal, except that she didn’t post the review herself, under her own name… it was posted under another name unknown to me, and this fictitious person had never stayed with us… and a 1-Star Review when you only have three others on Google can be pretty damaging to your overall score.
I had no proof that this guest has left the bad review on Google, but the mysterious reviewer lived within a few miles of her home address, so it was a pretty safe bet it was her leaving the review under a phony name. In my reply to that review, I even called her out for doing this, saying (Hi Crystal) in my response to her comments.
Five months later, another 1-star review shows up on our Google account, by yet another guest who has never stayed with us. In this review, the fictitious guest claims that the reviews posted on this site are LIES! Which is a ridiculous thing to suggest, because most of the reviews here were posted elsewhere first, and can be checked in their original locations. We just copy and gather them all here together so we have our own copy of them all in one place! Lies indeed!
Here is the review, left by a mysterious ‘Robert Blackburn’, and posted here, just like all of our other reviews are:
Just plain dirty. Dead bugs and frogs all over. The pool was a mess since the screen is busted due to over grown trees that are not maintained. I would never recommend this house. Too many nicer ones imo.
Owner say read real reviews on his website, they are all lies. Where are those reviews here?
- Stars 1 out of 5 (But I think they would probably give lower if they could!)
- Property BOV
- Stayed September 27, 2020
- Submitted March 10, 2021
- Posted To Google By Guest
- Guest Crystal Gorski
- Home Location McHenry, IL, USA
- Reservation ID 659
- Recommended for: NO ONE!!!
I’ll share my response, posted to Google below, but I first want to add a few comments to it.
- I’m posting this review from Google here, which I haven’t bothered to do much with other Google reviews, because if it’s true that all of the reviews on this website are Lies as claimed, then this one must automatically be too! Which reveals the Blackburn review to be the lie that it is. Or it proves that the reviews posted here are real, and we’re not afraid of sharing bad news too!
- I’m posting the guest’s full name (instead of initials) which normally I would never, ever do. Our guest’s privacy is important to us, but this public attack, which in my view is unfair and unwarranted, and done only in retaliation for the guest being unable to extract an undue refund, was posted in public in an attempt to cause us harm. If the person posting such comments wants to do so publicly, I think it only fair to call her out publicly.
- It is, in my view, ridiculous that Google allows anyone to post reviews about any other entity or business, without doing anything to verify the authenticity of those reviews, or whether or not the person leaving the review actually patronized the business they are leaving a review for. In our case, we know every single customer who does business with us. We have their full contact information, know where they live, how to contact them, etc. Running a vacation rental is not like running a McDonalds. We know every customer by name. So in our case, we know every single guest, and whether or not they are in any position to be able to leave an authentic, fair review. None of this matters to Google. They will allow anyone to slander anyone else on their websites, and don’t care about the real, genuine harm they do. This is very sad. The incredible power that google wields should be handled in a far more responsible manner.
On Google, I replied:
Here we have another phony ‘attack review’ that only demonstrates the fundamental flaws in Google’s approach to allowing anyone to lie about others in reviews on their site.
This is another attack posted by Crystal Gorski (or her husband) this time under the pseudonym of ‘Robert Blackburn’ (last time it was ‘Leo Olvera’) because we refused to provide a refund under a negative review extortion attempt.
Like Leo, ‘Robert Blackburn’ only leaves 1-star reviews and apparently isn’t satisfied with anything and hates everyone they do business with.
Google should never allow such abuse, but they do. What’s the deal Google? Have you never thought of checking IP addresses from submitters to eliminate duplicates? Or require proof that they actually did business with organizations they review?
Anyway… to answer Crystal’s nonsense about the actual reviews on our own website; every review includes the reservation number and dates, the guest’s initials, home town and source of the review. Given that 90 out of the over 150 reviews on our site come from VRBO alone, which only allows reviews from verified guests who booked and paid through the VRBO site; and the dates of all of the stays that were reviewed can be verified against our publicly posted availability calendars; claiming that our actual reviews are lies is the only actual lie being told here.
We’ve been collecting positive reviews online for over a decade, long before Google reviews ever became a thing.
(Here’s how I found out that this horrible 1-star review was left by Crystal Gorski, or someone acting for her.)
I reached out to another one of ‘Mr. Blackburn’s’ recent Google review victims to ask them if they had ever heard of a ‘Robert Blackburn’, a real estate agent named Tamara, who I found by checking Mr. Blackburn’s other Google reviews, which are all 1-star. Mr. Blackburn apparently doesn’t like anyone that they do business with. Every review they have left is 1-star. Tamara and I had a great conversation, and she told me that “No, she had never dealt with, nor heard of a Robert Blackburn.” Then I asked Tamara if she had had any recent contact with Crystal Gorski, to which she immediately replied “Yes, but it was very brief… she left me a negative review?”
It is impossible for it to be just a coincidence that another victim of ‘Robert Blackburn’ had dealings with Crystal Gorski in Illinois and was then left a 1-star review, just as I too dealt with Crystal Gorski from Illinois in Florida, and was then also left a 1-star review by ‘Robert Blackburn’… a name I also don’t recognize and have never done business with.
This made it obvious that Crystal Gorski was up to her old tricks, using a pseudonym to attack people using phony Google Reviews.
If Google is going to allow their website to be used as a weapon by unscrupulous, dishonest people, without any checks or balances… I will post the full truth in response without hesitation.
And here it is:
Crystal was the most difficult, complaining guest we have had in the last two years. We wasted more money and time trying to appease her and satisfy her endless complaints, ultimately having lost money on her stay, than with every other guest, combined, over that time.
Our property manager immediately recognized her as someone positioning herself to demand a refund, and that is exactly what ultimately happened. Unfortunately this has been an increasing trend in the vacation rental business, where guests pay for a stay, show up, enjoy the property, and then demand a refund afterwards and threaten to post a negative review unless they get the refund. Some even go so far as to claim that they never stayed at the property! (For those out there inclined to try such tactics and who happen to be reading this; I and my fellow VR property owners, and managers, have all seen this stuff before. We are prepared to deal with it, and you won’t get away with it, so don’t even bother trying. We’re a lot smarter than you are.)
Later, when Crystal tried to initiate a chargeback, and her own low-credit-score card company wouldn’t even allow it (they obviously had prior experience with her), the first negative review was posted. And here we have another one, five months later, posted under another phony name.
I suppose professional complainers never get tired of their own games!
We are not a perfect organization, but no one tries harder than we do to address guest concerns, and step up if something isn’t right. We take great care of our guests!
But when they start taking irrational risks to prove illogical claims; ignore realities like the effects of a pandemic, cold weather or hurricanes; can’t possibly be satisfied, and threaten bad reviews unless they get refunds for services already provided (services and care which consistently win glowing reviews from almost all other guests); we will not be bullied.
We call on Google to amend their policies to provide opportunity for balanced, fair reviews; or not allow them on their sites at all.
The response posted by me on Google is a condensed version of the above due to space limitations, but that is essentially it.
So Crystal… I’m sorry that you were disappointed in your stay, because I want all of our guests to be thrilled with their experience with us. Was yours perfect, or even catching us at our best? No, unfortunately it wasn’t, but for those things that actually were problems that needed addressing, you got a 5-Star response. We went way above the norm doing everything we could to address your complaints and make up any lack on our part to you. You even said so yourself.
The guests who stayed both before and after you, and the hundreds who have stayed at Breezy Oak Villa in the time since we have owned it, have not had problems with the HVAC system, or the Air Conditioning of the house. Cleanliness will certainly vary over time, even within the same property that is being well cleaned, because certain things are taken care of on a weekly, monthly, or on an annual basis, depending on what they are. If you show up after an annual duct cleaning, or bi-annual carpet cleaning, you’re going to see those things in better shape than just before the work is done.
The vast majority of our guests find our properties very well cleaned, and if in the rare situation that something wasn’t right, we would make it up to them effectively, and fast. But dust in a return air vent is not proof that our villa gave you a respiratory infection. Especially on the last day of your stay.
If you have unusual needs, or unusual standards, then you need to be ready to accept that you’re not going to be completely comfortable with what everyone else is, most of the time. And that it is unfair and untruthful to complain about better-than-average service and accommodations provided, which have to be set-up so that the vast majority of people can be comfortable and have an enjoyable and pleasant stay with us.
You also have to recognize where you are, and that HVAC systems and home settings will not be the same, nor produce the same results, in Florida as opposed to just outside of Chicago. You need to adjust and adapt a little bit, just as we and all of our other guests do, to the norms of where you are staying when you are away from home. It is unreasonable to expect it will be exactly the same as at home. If you don’t like the environment in Florida, then perhaps it simply isn’t a good vacation destination for you.
Should you care to take the time to remove both of your phony Google reviews from their website, I will be happy to remove this post from ours.
Our guests are cherished. We appreciate their patronage so very much, and really do strive to provide every single one with an exceptionally good accommodations experience in the Orlando, Florida area. In the decade we’ve been welcoming people to our homes, we’ve encountered a few ‘live ones’ who either were horrible to deal with, unappreciative and unfair, or unreasonable in some manner of how they conducted themselves with us. Thankfully they are the rare exception to the great people the vast majority of our guests are.
Those who decide to ‘try one one’ as our Brit friends like to put it, won’t get very far doing so.