Do I have to refund a customer who left because they said the holiday home was infested with vermin, when there was only one mouse?
I have an issue with a holiday let. An elderly couple hired our holiday home in a woodland plot. They had been quite difficult before hiring and we had already changed their date to allow for issues with the petrol crisis at the loss of our own holiday reserved there.
They arrived on Saturday and sent an email saying that our holiday home was ‘superb’. The following day we received a complaint that the caravan was infested with vermin. They sent a few photos of several mouse droppings from around the holiday home (around 15).
We had been staying in the home ourselves before they arrived and as always left it perfect. We stayed 3 days in total and there were no mice on the Wednesday. However we assumed one must have got in around the time of their arrival (dense woods all around, lots of mice) 3 days later so we offered to come over the following morning (it was already late afternoon on the Sunday) and set traps and clean out. Our offers were read but ignored.
When we arrived early the following morning to sort out the mouse issue…we discovered that the customers had left. We found one forest mouse in the caravan and a few droppings.
The following day we received a very unpleasant call accusing us of hiring a filthy holiday home ‘infested’ with vermin and they demanded a full refund. At this point we had offered them another full week at the caravan which they refused and they became quite abusive and persistent making wild claims about the cleanliness of our holiday home and talking over me. Eventually I had to put the phone down.
So my question is this…seeing as they emailed and admitted it was a lovely, clean caravan but then tried for a refund on the basis of it being vermin infested the following day…do I owe them a refund legally?
Had they not been so rude on the phone…I would have been far more accommodating…but if I do now, considering the allegations thrown out on the phone, aren’t I admitting the caravan is ‘vermin infested and filthy?’
I have rented it for 30 years and have had nothing but positive feedback including throughout September. I’m now being bombarded with threats and deadlines to refund them via email. Am I legally obliged to? Help!
12th March 2022