If I post critique of cabin operator, I help ‘sharing economy’

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Helen, Ga., draws crowds to its German themed architecture and shops. (Photos David Tulis)

Helen, Ga., draws crowds to its German themed architecture and shops. (Photos David Tulis)

David and Jeannette Tulis, he of Swiss extraction (note flag, left), she of Dutch (note flag for the Netherlands).

David and Jeannette Tulis, he of Swiss extraction (note flag, left), she of Dutch (note flag for the Netherlands) at a square in Helen, Ga.

Late in the 1960s the town fathers of Helen, Ga., began to redesign their town and its buildings to make it European -- a real tourist grab.

Late in the 1960s the town fathers of Helen, Ga., began to redesign their town and its buildings to make it European — a real tourist grab.

Helen, Ga., boasts cute little alleys such as this one, from which emerges a visiting family with children.

Helen, Ga., boasts cute little alleys such as this one, from which emerges a visiting family with children.

The trigger to start the gas log heater made a terrific clack each time my wife, Jeannette, and I pushed it to warm up our holiday cabin. Nothing.

In shaving, I found I could not open the drain. A scum of shaving cream speckled with whiskers sat in the sink until I used a kitchen knife to unpop the drain.

By David Tulis

A flush of the toilet in our Helen, Ga., getaway cabin prompted a long run of water; the tank wouldn’t fill. I twirled the dial to stop the flow. We used a toilet across the living space at the other end of the house.

The cabin lacked blankets, too. Our first night was chilly because we set the heat to 65 degrees as we do at home. We should have run it at 74.

Next day I called the administration of the F$99 a night rental (plus tax) to offer “an initial review” of our palace. After hearing my list, the woman at the other end of the line asked, cringingly, if I had a fifth request. No, I assured her.

Giving a review vs. concealing a fault

As a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ I am happy to overlook slights such as those afflicted upon my 25th wedding anniversary outing and two rare nights out of town.

The Lord tells us in Proverbs to overlook offenses and take no grievance. “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends” (Prov. 17:9). “Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs” (Prov. 10:12). “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” Prov. 19:11)

On the other hand, it might prove useful to “the marketplace” to post a review about the facility to get the attention of its operators and warn future clients. Might not a review done factually and without meanness be a charitable service to prospective customers coming after us?

Should I extend charity to our host (whose clerk we met) and remain silent? Or to people like us who would use a negative review in assessing these Georgia seller of overnight services?

Disappointed again

We return from a stroll along the touristy downtown with its mock German architecture, a dinner out and a hike along a rushing stream to Anna Ruby Falls. In our absence, a repair had been promised.

I find that the toilet has not been fixed. The sink won’t unplug — I am not even going to try to ignite the gas to light up the fireplace. Nothing’s been done, it appears.

The contract says the rental outfit is under no obligation to fix anything while the customers occupy the cabin, Jeannette points out

Am I peevish or helpful to write a Google review? Reviews play an increasingly valuable role in economic choices.

They are “reputational feedback mechanisms” that could serve our landlord and contribute to improving his service.

Three reviews of our rental host from the past year are negative. “I contacted the after hours line and was told by the manager she would call me back. I sat in my car, in the cold for an hour with two children, one of which was only two years old. She never called back, left us waiting and we could not get to the cabin. I had to rent 2 hotel rooms for the night.” Another visitor ended a list of complaints this way about a late email exchange: “They were extremely condescending and unprofessional. No partial refund. Not even one single apology for the inconvenience.” The third says, “The hot tub was broken, the floor was dirty, the pool table was broken and put back together with screws so not a good time and priced way too much . Only thing nice was the lady [at the] office.”

More negative comments in the in-house guest book.

Observes Arun Sundararajan, New York University Stern School of Business professor: “For a long time, trust was provided through community. In the last 100 years, it turned to branding. And now, we’re coming full circle with the digitized community.”

In other words, reputation established with every customer once again matters because of the review possibilities on the Internet that let customers aggregate reviews to obtain an overall impression of a marketplace provider.

Though we left unhappy with our service, I left a F$10 tip for the housekeeper in the guestbook envelope, She very likely is a poor sort and has not contributed to the landlord’s or the property owner’s mistakes.

Source: Jedidiah Bracy, “In the Sharing Economy, Could Reputation Replace Regulation?”  International Association of Privacy Professionals, June 10, 2015. https://iapp.org/news/a/in-the-sharing-economy-could-reputation-replace-regulation/

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