The summer of discontent drags on for Bachcare customers with more reports of guests being locked out, cut off and fed up.
The holiday rental company came under fire this week after some customers received incorrect or no access information for their accommodation, leaving them stranded and unable to reach Bachcare’s customer service team.
In some cases, guests resorted to breaking into holiday homes after multiple unsuccessful requests for help.
In a statement on Thursday, Bachcare general manager Matthew Clews said resolving the “technical glitch” responsible for the access issues had been given the highest priority.
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Stuff made several attempts to contact Bachcare this week but no further response was received.
Meanwhile, complaints about the company continued to stream in over the weekend.
In a post on Bachcare’s Facebook page, Alice Cade said it had been more than a week since her group abandoned attempts to get into the bach they had booked.
“No-one from Bachcare has bothered to return the multiple calls or messages we have left,” she wrote.
“No holiday for us as we had to turn around and go home. Nice way to end a difficult year.”
For Sian Ormsby, problems getting into her $705 a night Whitianga apartment were just the start.
At 11pm on day five of her six-day stay, a problem with the apartment’s pipes left the sink overflowing and water gushing from the hot water cylinder.
“We couldn’t use the dishwasher, bathroom, washing machine, or kitchen sink. The floor outside the laundry was soaked under the carpet,” Ormsby said.
A call to Bachcare’s after-hours number went unanswered, prompting Ormsby to leave a message and go to bed.
Things were worse in the morning, with the floor “soaking” and calls to Bachcare still proving unsuccessful.
“We called a plumber, but they said Bachcare had to call them so we were stuck. Thank heavens it was check-out day, but we still had no instructions on where to leave the key.
“The site manager wouldn’t take them, so we literally walked away from a flooding apartment, leaving the keys on the kitchen counter,” Ormsby said.
“I really want the owners to know what has gone on with their beautiful apartment and how badly their guests have been treated.”
A mother-of-four who travelled from Wellington to Waihi Beach with her family told Stuff her experience had been “horrendous”.
“With four kids, that trip takes nine hours and when we arrived we discovered they’d sent us the wrong [access] code. We had no way of getting in touch with Bachcare except their 0800 number,” she said.
“The closest we got to speaking to someone was using the option for homeowners – that tells you that you’re number one in the queue, and then it cuts you off.
“Our family were left stranded, door knocking round the neighbourhood with a disabled child.”
The family were eventually able to get in using a code provided by a former Bachcare worker and had since learned three previous groups had had the same problems at the property.
When contact was made with Bachcare the following day, the family was offered a refund of their cleaning fee and one night’s accommodation, but the woman was not confident that would eventuate.
“We wouldn’t have got into the house if we hadn’t had help from the neighbours. We came close to breaking in but would probably have ended up sleeping in the car.”
As well as ongoing reports of access problems, other guests complained of overgrown or poorly equipped properties, in some cases with no hot water or gas for cooking.
Last year, Bachcare announced changes it said would streamline its services and improve the business for contractors, property owners and guests.
The changes took effect on October 1 and included the replacement of local property managers with an 0800 number for customer support.
In his statement, Clew said Bachcare’s customer support team had been bolstered for the summer period but call volumes were higher than anticipated due to the technical issue and that had impacted waiting times for assistance.
Compensation for affected guests was assessed on a case-by-case basis and claims were being responded to and resolved as quickly as possible, he said.
Consumer NZ spokeswoman Gemma Rasmussen said guests who decided not to go to their accommodation because of a lack of communication from Bachcare would be entitled to a refund under the Consumer Guarantees Act.
“If they have already paid, are at property and can’t get in, have tried to contact Bachcare and failed, they could either choose to return home and get accommodation and possibly some transport costs reimbursed, or try to find other accommodation in the area and seek to claim reimbursement of the extra they have had to pay.”
Rasmussen said there may be extra costs if Bachcare or the property owner failed to provide the service booked. However, the costs of alternative accommodation had to be reasonable.
“You can’t book in for a bach then claim five-star hotel reimbursement, unless you can show that that is all that was available, and it is understandable if you’re locked outside your accommodation, it may be slim pickings as to what you can book.”
Anyone pursuing a refund should keep a record of emails and calls made to Bachcare to provide as evidence.
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