Monday, February 9, 2009

I Need Your Opinion ...

Our trip to Florida was fun, but I have to tell you first of all about the management company with whom we dealt. What a nightmare! I'll warn you, DON'T EVER RENT FROM EVERGREEN FLORIDA VACATION HOMES or ELITE FLORIDA VACATION HOMES. Their employees are rude, nasty and couldn't care less about customer service. (02/11/09) I just found out they also are associated with VACATION RENTALS BY OWNER & MAGIC VACATION VILLAS. There may be others, so watch out for the names shown below in labels area.

I would like for you to read what I present here and then give me your opinion of how you think the company (EFVH) and we handled this.

Let me tell you up front, this is a long post, but I want to give you the details so you can judge for yourself as to whether we were overly demanding.

So... here we go:

The week of December 6-13, 2008 there were 11 of us that made this trip to Florida:

Barry & Julye (Mom's brother & sister-in-law)
Mom & Dad
Chris, Harold, Ashleigh & Trevor (Sister, brother-in-law, niece & nephew)
Gayle & Harold (Mom's sister & brother-in-law)
and me.

Barry & Julye flew in on Friday from SLC and the rest of us all flew in together on Saturday from Denver. We could not get into the rental house until 4 p.m. on Saturday. While the rest of us were picking up our luggage and rental cars Barry & Julye went out to the house and tried to enter. Here is where our first admitted mistake happened. Barry had not read all of the entry instructions. In the past, the houses we've rented had a 4-digit code that was entered on key pad on the door and that released the lock. No, this place used those realtors lockboxes. He did not understand that once the code was entered the front of the box opened and there was a key inside the box. Have you ever tried to work those? Once you know how to work them it's not too bad, but try entering the numbers in the dark... yes... the front porch light was burnt out.

After fighting with it for a while, Barry tried to call the management company and did not get an answer. He called me and asked me to call. I got an answer. The man did not introduce himself and if he greeted me with the name of the company it was mumbled because I didn't hear it. I had to ask if I had reached the correct company. Nothing was said about being on the phone with another client or that he would return any calls. We exchanged several calls between ourselves as well as several between one of us and the management company. The man on the phone (I personally never understood what the name was when I was talking to him) was insistent that the lock worked as he had just been there earlier in the day. His immediate reaction when Sis talked to him was that if he had to make a trip out to the house to let us in, we would be charged $60. Well, with no thanks to, or compassion from, the management person we did finally get the door figured out and were into the house.

Our next battle was the pool. We were to be in Florida for 7 nights. So we paid an extra $15 a day for pool heat for 7 days. Our expectation was that when we went to get into the pool that first night that we would have a heated pool. WRONG! So, again, Sis called the management office about this issue and was informed that the heat was indeed on. He had turned it on himself about 11 a.m. that morning; however, it takes 24 hours to heat. If that was the case and we were scheduled to arrive after 4 p.m. on Saturday, why was it not turned on the day before? In essence they charged us for pool heat knowing that it would not be warm that first night.

During the conversation, this man became very abusive and threatening. He informed Sis that we were the most troublesome tenants that they had and had received at least 11 calls from us that day. He informed her that he was ready to tell us to pack our bags and get out of the property. If we had had any other options we would have, but unfortunately we were stuck and he knew that. Sis was in tears when she hung up. Thank you very much EFVH for getting our vacation off to a GREAT start.

We let things go until Monday night when we got back from the park as we still did not have adequate heat in the pool. We (as a team) composed an email to the woman with whom Sis had been working when she reserved the house. Barry had brought his laptop, so we were able to get Internet connections and email.

Here is that email:

I'm e-mailing you because we are having a problem with our pool heat, and I'm afraid to call your "property manager". When I spoke to him on Saturday, I was treated very poorly. He was was very rude and condescending. I actually felt humiliated after I talked to him. I was basically threatened with eviction for calling too many times. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication among our party about how to get into the house. If the "property manager" had either answered the phone the first time or returned a phone call when we first started trying to reach him, he might not have received so many calls. Well, we finally got in, and I'm sorry we had such a problem on a Saturday. I did apologize for being a "problem resident", but that meant nothing because he was rude from the get go.

Unfortunately, I had to call him again about the pool heat, because I thought that since we paid for pool heat that the pool would be heated on the first night, as did everyone else in our party. When I was trying to get that straightened out, he finally told us to pack our stuff and leave, he was tired of getting so many calls from us. I felt humiliated, couldn't believe he would tell us to do that, let alone, talk to me (the customer) like that. I have to tell you, I was in tears after hanging up with him. Honestly, we are probably the most conscientious residents you will ever have, but we do expect to get what we pay for. Well, he told me it wasn't his fault that the weather outside has been so cold, and he explained that he turned the heat on Saturday afternoon, and that it will not be heated right away, but that it should be heated the following night. Well, here it is Monday night, and we are still unable to swim in the pool due to the temperature. That's 3 nights of PAID pool heat that we have not been able to utilize.

After reading the "Guest Book" to see if there was something we are supposed to be doing, that we might not be (due to the fact that I'm scared to call the property manager) we noticed that there is supposed to be a "pool blanket" somewhere. There isn't and never has been a pool blanket anywhere to be found. That could be the problem, but honestly, Karyn, we've been coming here and renting houses for the last 10 years, and we've never had a "pool blanket" and also have never had problem with the pool heat, and if that is the problem, I am SCARED to call this guy. When I spoke to him on Saturday, he was very adamant about not NEEDING to come out here because he was just here a couple hours before, and inspected the house, and was POSITIVE everything was in working order. That is fine, but if he would have been a little more tactful about trying to help us, you probably wouldn't even be hearing from us right now.

We would really love to swim after we get home from the parks, but we cannot, and we are not sure what to do? We've paid for pool heat, shouldn't we be able to use the pool?

I would appreciate your assistance in resolving our issues so that we may enjoy the remainder of our vacation because it really got off to a BAD start. We are enjoying the house in general, but the pool issue is extremely disappointing.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.


It turns out that this woman was one of the owners of this management company so we thought there would be a little bit of compassion displayed by her. Again WRONG!

Here is her reply:

Dear Ms. , I am attaching a copy of the rental terms and conditions that you received at the time of booking. Please note that in these terms it states that if the outdoor temperatures drop below 55 degrees, the pool heater will not heat the pool. There are no refunds or rebates on pool heat. Sincerely, Karyn

As Sis pointed out, we never once, in all of this mess requested a refund. If they chose to read it that way, that was their mistake.

While we were out at the park on Tuesday, the management guy called Sis on her cell phone to inform her that he had just been to house and that the pool was sufficiently warm. He also informed her that he had the repaired the torn screen which we had obviously torn since it was not in that condition when he was there on Saturday. WRONG DUDE! That was one of the items on our list of things that were wrong with the house that we started as soon as Sis talked to him the last time on Saturday. We had not even been out around the pool except to look at it.

When we arrived home that night this was the email that was waiting for us:

Mrs .,

It is amazing how one sided your argument really is. In this world you reap what you sow and if you had spoken to us with the respect and manner that you crave, you would have received a more amicable response. Instead, you opted to go on the offensive and insinuate that we are liars, so what do you expect? You might get away with that here but the customer is not always right when they are wrong. The fact that you are the customer does not give you free license to be patronising and of an "I want" attitude.

When you called about not being able to operate the lockbox, we were actually with another client. Yes, another client. That means somebody else in this world other than you. We did speak with you and get you into the home, even if the lockbox at the home could have been operated by a two year old yet you all collectively struggled. Not our fault. In fact, two of you called at the same time and whilst I was speaking to one, the other's call went to voicemail.

As Karyn correctly points out, the temperature is very cold and we have no control over that as the equipment will not operate. This is something that we tell you about in our literature. It is December in Florida with various coldfronts hitting the state on a regular basis. A member of your party seemed to think it was like boiling water in a kettle, which just goes to show just how much you really know about pools and poolheat. We inspect our homes and the equipment before and after every guest, personally.

Your email just lacks any kind of common sense or perspective and is completely one sided.

That email was signed by someone named Daniel.

Then there was this one from Philip

Ms ,

Following our conversation earlier today, I wanted to respond to you myself. Daniel did a good job of explaining to you in his reply exactly how we felt on Saturday night with your constant calls. I do not want to go over old ground but your entire approach to this is so self centered and I want to make sure you understand our perspective on these matters.

On Saturday we received 11 calls from you, which was more than we got from every other home we manage combined. My understanding is that you were not even there. Some of your party were and they were trying to ring us at the same time as you. How you could possibly know what was going on is beyond me but the fact that you immediately went on the offensive given only one side of the story is what complicated matters. Of those eleven calls, we answered five, three more we could not answer because we were talking to you while your other members were trying to call. The other three went to voicemail because we were actually with another client who was not too happy about the constant interruptions from somebody that he personally claimed would be a problem guest to us.

You claim that we did not answer the phone which is simply not true. But even when we did, you were aggressive and accusatory and if there is one way to wind us up, you found it. This "customer is always right" bullshit does not work with us because we are in a business where more than a few clients come to town with an agenda and try and enforce that agenda from the moment they arrive by causing trouble and laying the ground down for compensation. We have been doing the job long enough to spot these people a mile away and we are skeptical when anybody contacts us adopting your tone.

For the record, although the lockbox worked perfectly fine, we do have an emergency lockbox for occasions when guests are unable to use it correctly. We did give you the lockbox number for entry purposes and you got in the home within minutes of actually calling us. With all respect, you try getting most management companies to answer the phone on a Saturday night and see how many of them respond as quickly as we did.

Your other issue, which occurred within minutes of you getting in the house, was the pool heat. A guest pays for pool heat by the night. You paid for seven nights, the first night of that was Saturday. I personally turned on the heater at around 11am. The outside temperature was still only 54 degrees and the low overnight had been in the mid-30's. This heater is not a kettle. To heat 12,000 gallons of water, a machine has to work hard. For it to work in conditions that it was not designed for is impossible. To try and combat this, and knowing the temperatures would not pick up until now, I left the heater running for 24 hours a day instead of the usual 16. At best, the water temperature was only going to get to 10 degrees above of the outside air temperature.

I got no thanks for this but then I didn't expect any from you. I came around to the home on Sunday and checked the heater again and everything was working normally and the water temperature was higher though not 85 degrees. This had nothing to do with us. I cannot control the climate and it is made clear to every guest who orders pool heat what the risks are. I was at the home again when I called you today and the pool registered a temperature of 82 degrees at around 11:30am.

The fact that you said it did not feel like 82 degrees has nothing to do with me. You have already called me a liar, are you now saying that my thermostat is lying as well?

Contrary to my own feelings regarding you, I am leaving the equipment running 24 hours a day and hopefully your pool will stay warm now that temperatures have improved. At my initial expense, I have also asked for a pool blanket to be fitted this afternoon. This is at the discretion of the owner and as of today, I have not received his approval to purchase a blanket. I have also asked my maintenance man to replace the pool screen that is torn on the corner of the pool deck. It was not like that when you moved in and is easily chargable but I am scared to ask you to pay for it as I would hate to ruin your vacation anymore.

You may be frightened of me Ms ... but you really need to look at the way you talk to people. If you can't handle the response then don't provoke the discussion.

Enjoy your vacation,

Philip referred to the fact he got no thanks from us for leaving the pool heater on for 24 hours instead of the normal 16 hours. That was never mentioned until this email. You can't thank someone for something you know nothing about. At this point we decided our complaints were falling on deaf ears and we decided to let it drop for the rest of the trip. However, when we got home (back to Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, etc) we composed another team email as one last protest of the way we were treated. This is our email:

Date: Sat, 27 Dec 2008 11:54:16 -0600

Wow. Not one, but two abusive, accusing e-mails, that even contain foul language, and from the "President" of the company no less.

Well, I had to let this go until I could come home and let it all sink in, as to what REALLY happened in Florida. I actually went to your website, and read all the HYPE about how you take pride in your homes, and expect that every client will be a "repeat client". Well, if we are any example of how you treat your "repeat clients", good luck with that. Word of mouth just happens to be the BEST form of advertisement, and just to let you know, you will be getting a lot of free "advertising" from our party. We have been coming to the Kissimmee area for the past ten years and renting houses, which I know is no comparison to the 5 long years you have been in business, however, we always get asked where we've stayed, how we liked it, etc. We have always recommended places we have stayed in the past, but I will do my best to advise anyone and everyone that I can (thanks to the World Wide Web) to steer clear of evergreen florida vacation homes, (formerly elite florida vacation homes) or any company that is associated with efvh, or phil, dan and wendy young. After the way we were treated, and the condition of the house itself, I can certainly see why "Dinville" was still available at such a late date. It also makes me wonder why your name changed from elite to evergreen. Almost makes me think you HAD to change it.

As for an "AGENDA and seeking COMPENSATION", our only "AGENDA and COMPENSATION" we were seeking was to have a fun and relaxing vacation that we have been planning for TWO years. I know you don't know what that is like, because the way you treat your clients, you obviously have all the business you need. We worked long and hard to save for this vacation, and were so excited to rent this nice house with a nice pool, etc. We were very excited to get to the house, and when we had trouble getting in, (which again, I apologized for, but it meant nothing), we got a little anxious. It was obvious, you didn't want to be BOTHERED on a SATURDAY.

After we experienced what we did with evergreen florida vacation homes, I was very upset that we actually gave people like you our business. I will let anyone and everyone read the e-mails that were sent in reply to our request for "help". I will also make it known that we were "threatened" not once, but twice. Once with being evicted, and twice with having our pool heat shut off because we were wanting a refund. Forgive us for wanting pool heat for our ENTIRE stay rather than just 4 of the 7 days that we paid for. As I said on the phone, not anywhere did I ever ask for a refund. All we wanted was Pool Heat. And isn't it funny that after I mentioned that the handbook stated we should have a pool blanket, that one showed up. Even after you argued with me that it didn't state that, and that I should re-read the handbook and see how it says "use the pool blanket 'where available'". It's obvious that you re-read your own handbook to find out that it actually said the "pool heat will not work efficiently if the pool blanket is not used." It's also funny how the pool heat seemed to be fine after the pool blanket was supplied. I've never dealt with such evil, suspicious people in my life. I also can't believe that people would use your company to manage their property, but that is something they will have to deal with.

You mentioned that the pool area screen was ripped or torn and it wasn't that way when you "inspected" the home. Well, that could very well be, however, it must have then happened in the very short window of time between your "inspection" and our arrival, because that is actually on our list of issues that we had with the house. I guess it's IMPOSSIBLE that it could have been overlooked when you inspected the house before we arrived, even though it wasn't even noticeable unless a breeze came up. I actually thought someone might have ripped it in order to get in and take the pool blanket we were supposed to have, but after speaking to you on the phone, I knew that we never had a pool blanket in the
first place.

Here is a list of issues we had with the house. After talking to you on the phone that first night we thought it necessary to bring these things up, just to let you know, that things WERE overlooked during your "inspection" and everything was not in "PERFECT" working order as you stated. Again, we wouldn't even be bringing this stuff up, nor would you be hearing from us, had we experienced some good, old fashioned customer service.

  • 1. MOLD in all the showers. We actually went out and bought Clorox cleaner so we would feel comfortable stepping in the showers. GROSS!!!

  • 2. The front porch light was burnt out, so we had to try and enter the combo to the lockbox every night in the dark.

  • 3. The handle on the sliding glass door actually fell off. We had to do our best to screw it back on without a screw driver.

  • 4. Pool screen ripped. Not really noticeable until a breeze came up. (That was actually fixed during our stay, and after being ACCUSED of ripping it.)

  • 5. Bolts had fallen out of the pool table. That could have caused injury had one of the persons in our party not been able to put them back in, and again, without a screwdriver. It also slants.

  • 6. The air hockey game had all the pucks shoved in the goal of one side. We had to dig those out in order for the kids to play.

  • 7. Glob of previous guests shaving cream in the sink of the master queen bathroom. GROSS!!!

  • 8. Outlets to the right of the kitchen sink didn't work. Not sure why they didn't work but could be a fire hazard.

  • 9. Left arm on the loveseat in living area right off of the kitchen was broken, flattened somehow. Looks like someone might have sat on it and flattened it. Which can be seen in your virtual tour of your property. (02/10/09 - just checked the virtual tour and it has been changed. The broken loveseat arm can longer be seen)

  • 10. Main bathroom upstairs, toilet door does not latch.

  • 11. Cable connection, in the twin bedroom at the front of the house, and downstairs bedroom, not fastened to wall.

  • 12. No back to remote.

  • 13. Carpet had some bad spots on it.

  • 14. The blind valance in the tub area of the main bathroom upstairs was not attached. It was lying in the window sill.

  • 15. No towel rack in the tub area of the main bathroom of the upstairs bathroom, but there was one in the toilet area... seems a little backwards.

  • 16. Moldy, dirty pool toys left by previous guests. GROSS!!!

    We are NOT asking for a refund, which, I know is the only thing that matters to you, however, we simply found it ironic how your web-site and every piece of literature you supply for your clients specifically states how much "pride" you take in your homes. Your property owners might be interested in how their properties are "managed" and what "pride" means to you.

    Some final thoughts as I reflect back on this entire situation. Having worked in customer service positions ourselves, it doesn't matter who was wrong or right, or if there was a problem or not. Whether you know it or not, and I'm guessing NOT, it is your job to put a CUSTOMER at ease about their purchase. $1500 is a large purchase, and a customer only wants to know they didn't waste their money. If the CUSTOMER is having difficulty, for WHATEVER REASON, it IS your job to put them at ease, whether it's a Saturday or not. That IS the nature of your business. Obviously there was not a problem with the lockbox, but a friendly voice saying "well, try this or that" would have been nice, instead of threatening that you are going to charge us $60 if you have to come out. The pool heat, well that's another story, but again, a friendly voice explaining what the problem was would have been nice too, however, don't accuse a customer of not reading the handbook clearly, when you are not sure of what it says yourself. (speaking of the pool blanket, of course). And for the record, I was not the first one to speak with you. It happened to be my sister. I actually thought I was the only one to take your verbal abuse, but she said "no, he was kind of rude when I talked to him also."

    As I stated in my previous e-mail, we are probably the most conscientious clients you will ever come across, and I'm sure you found that when you inspected the house after we left. It was in the same, if not better condition than when we arrived. (I'll say better because of the simple fact there was no more mold in the showers).

    No need to respond to this e-mail and dig yourself a deeper hole. We just wanted to let you know, as I mentioned above, that our only AGENDA was to have a nice vacation. PERIOD!!! I would like to thank you for putting a damper on that. I imagine that was YOUR AGENDA. This e-mail is only being sent to accomplish one thing, and that is to let you know how dissatisfied we were with your "service". Your e-mails responding to our request for "help" were appalling. After those were sent, and after what happened over the phone, anything that you felt you did to go above and beyond the call of duty was too little too late. We have never been treated so badly before in our lives, and don't plan on it ever happening again. Fortunately, you nor anyone in our party will ever have to deal with each other again.

    Our satisfaction comes from knowing that WORD OF MOUTH is the BEST form of advertisement, and in this economy, vacations are not a priority and business is very competitive.


  • And here is the pleasant response we received from them. OH and please note it is addressed to Dear SIR! All along they have known that they were dealing with a woman and suddenly it is MR and SIR.

    Dear Sir,

    Thank you for your mail. We do not have time to read it all right now but we do welcome all feedback.

    Like all companies, we unfortunately have to cater for very bad clients occasionally, some stupid ones too, and some both, as I am led to believe you were, by everyone you dealt with while in our home, and even before you arrived by all accounts.

    As a result of this, and your belated complaint below, my attorney has been sent a copy of your rather juvenile threats and action is being taken. You were the aggressor here, not the victim, and you really should be ashamed to suggest otherwise.

    There are 2 sides to every story Sir, and although I have not finished reading your rather savage document, it is obvious what you are saying, and I am very thankful that the 50,000 guests that have stayed with us prior to you, will testify to our service and the fact that we do take care of our clients. We have had many good guests and they do come back time and time again. That is good enough for us, and a real testimony to the job we try to do.

    We are proud of our record, our customer base, and our reputation. You should also remember too that we have a responsibility to the owners of these homes and if we see any guest in any of them, who we think represents a threat to that home, then we have a duty to the owner to be firm with that person and let them know in no uncertain way that they will be in trouble if they damage the property. We do not mess about, or compromise with such people, so you messed with the wrong guy here, if you thought you could
    abuse your way into our affections. You may call yourself conscientious Sir, but the condition you left the home in speaks differently. I did not complain to you because I half expected to find that, plus I did not want anything more to do with you, and besides that, I do get problems in homes occasionally and just get on with putting them right, while banning those responsible from ever staying with us again.

    You are, of course, banned. It goes without saying. We grade all our guests Sir, and you are a 1. I hope you are proud of that.

    Still, as I said, you will be hearing from us shortly, but in the meantime I suggest you seek some kind of professional help, and I mean that is a kind way Sir. People who do not have the ability to see their own faults are usually those in need of help the most, and you are in such denial that you may be beyond help, but it is worth a try I think.

    Please do not thank me for this advice, just take it. That will be reward enough.

    And when you have done that, then hopefully you will have matured enough to know that when you call a company, any company, mouth off as you did, start rabbitting on about being the customer therefore I am always right, and displaying a level of ignorance that we have seldom seen before, then well, you really do deserve everything that comes back.

    If you cannot handle that, then you really should not provoke the discussion. Or to put it another way, if you live in a glass house, dont start chucking stuff around!.

    Now, go back to Munchkin land, or wherever you are from, click your heels together three times and say there is no place like an Evergreen home and before you know it
    you will be back here again, apologizing for being such a really bad guest the first time, and begging us for forgiveness, which of course we will do. I will never let you stay in one of my homes again, but I will forgive you, because this is a time for forgiveness, is it not, and no matter how unintelligent, ignorant, or abusive that person might be, if we cannot find it in our hearts to forgive them at Christmas, what kind of world would it be.

    As I said, we will be back in touch soon.

    You have a great New Year and a prosperous 2009.


    This one again was signed by Phil.

    None of us have responded to this one, although I’m still thinking about it. I’m also trying to decide if I should write the Better Business Bureau. I will admit, my family can be rather difficult to deal with sometimes and once you tick them off, it’s hard to get back in their good graces. However, I feel this approach by EFVH is completely uncalled for and lacks any resemblance of customer service.

    I really would like opinions from the outside world. I realize you are pretty much only getting our side of what transpired to start this, but you can see from both sides how everyone chose to deal with it.


    StaceyC4 said...

    Oh, I would SO be reporting them to the better business bureau and any other organization that I could find that deals with rental properties. In a heartbeat.

    I,too, have worked my whole life in customer service and never, NEVER would I speak to a customer that way nor would I even get in to an e-mail debate with them. The customer is always right. They can trash talk you all they want once you are off the phone, but to you...they are to maintain respect.

    I am so sorry that you had to deal with that. And seriously, I would look in to their reputation and reporting them to any and every agency I could find.

    Good luck!

    Roo said...

    This is a comment I received via e-mail:
    HOLLY Shit! I would send this to Tom Martino, He does out of state problems as well. I know he has a web site. I'm sure he would love to read through this. and pull their name through the mud

    Roo said...

    Here is another comment via e-mail:

    I just read your blog about your vacation.

    Mom never said anything about this.

    I'm surprised you were not on the phone to the BBB as soon as you got home.

    Annie said...

    Roo: Report them. They are horrid and keep this post on your blog because anyone who goggles the resort name may be led here. Folks need to know about their nasty service. I'm so sorry this happened. Don't be bitter, but be smart and warn others! Yikes!

    Roo said...

    I just sent an email to the Central Florida Better Business Bureau. I'll keep you all posted.

    Heather said...

    OMGosh I can't believe it. I would file a petition in small claims court. You spent a lot of money and wow!!! Even if you did not go through with an actual case...just to have a legal record and put a fly in their ointment. Wow I am putting this on my blog if it is ok...several people who read my blog go to vacation in FL

    Costa Seamless Gutter said...

    Uh, Wow, no matter how frustrated you sounded on the phone, their emails are ignorant and inexcusable!

    We where there that same cold winter and stayed at one of the Westgate Resorts. It was indeed super cold (all the flowers were covered with sheets the whole week we where there). Our pool was very warm. Their problem lie with the fact that they turned the heat off at all. Or, if the house had been vacant for a while, they admitted that they knew the pool would take a while to heat, so why did they not turn it on sooner? Because they sound like lazy cheap-scapes. I would check the county assessor and write the owners of the property directly.