How to Recognize a Serial Complainer

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You may never come across a serial complainer. At most, you’ll get the occasional piece of feedback that may seem unjustified but can be dealt with easily and with the minimum amount of stress. However there has been a growth of ‘professional complainers’ in recent years, stimulated in part by media articles encouraging consumers to stand up for their rights and to demand a refund if their expectations are not met. These people have often achieved compensation for previous complaints, and spurred on by these successes, will exploit the power and threat of social media to harass an owner into refunding a portion of their rental payment.

You may hear from them during their stay but more often the email received the day after your guests have left the property will be the first inkling you have there is a problem. The complaint will invariably be in writing, very lengthy covering several issues, and couched in such a way that the points made are hard to dispute. The complainant may refer to aspects of the listing –perhaps arguing that the text used misrepresented the property – and suggesting that they booked based on the description which subsequently didn’t match reality. Because the arguments are so subjective and describe assumptions that were made, they can be persuasive and it’s easy to be drawn into the emotional blackmail a serial complainer delivers.

They don’t give up, so if you respond in detail to every point made, there will be a return email pulling your response apart. Remember that these people have done this many times before and are skilled at manipulating a situation to fit the outcome they are looking for.
To deal with a serial complainer:

  • -stay objective
  • -keep replies short and to the point
  • -stick to the facts and avoid addressing emotions
  • -don’t enter into lengthy correspondance


Heather Bayer is Director of Owner Community at She has been renting her vacation homes for over 20 years and is author of the book Renting Your Recreational Property for Profit. Take a look at last week’s post on dealing with complaints and keep checking in for more from Heather.

Posted in Tips for property owners

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