Our experience of Apartment chalet Les Choucas in Vallandry: caveat emptor

Apartment Les Choucas, Vallandry

A group of my friends and I went to stay in John and Sonia Potts' apartment in Vallandry, France, in February 2005. We had a fantastic time and the apartment was lovely. However we had some problems and the owners have attempted to keep some of our deposit, so this page details these problems.

Withheld deposit: the money grab

A week and a half after returning, I received the following email:

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2005 14:44:34 +0000
From: John&Sonia Potts 
To: My email address
Subject: Re: Vallandry Apartment Booking

Hi Simon,

Yes thank you we have received the keys back.

We were in Vallandry ourselves last week and were a little concerned
by the report from our cleaning company.  As you know from our booking form -
we ask that the apartment is left in a clean and tidy condition.  However
our cleaners have said that after your stay the apartment was left in a
very poor condition:
- beds had just been left (beds should have been stripped and linen replaced
in bags for collection)
- empty bottles were left in the apartment
- food was left in cupboards
- rubbish was left in the apartment

Consequently the cleaning company had to undertake much more work than
normal to get the apartment ready - which they are charging us for.

I am sorry but I will have to pass this charge on to you and am
therefore deducting the £35 from your deposit cheque.  I will send you a cheque
back for the remainder of your deposit i.e. £115.

Regards,

Sonia
      

So a few issues here really. There was no mention in any of the paperwork they gave us of stripping the beds and leaving the linen somewhere. We did not leave any bottles or rubbish in the apartment. We took them down to the bins. Finally, the food left in the cupboards was sealed, non-perishable items that were left over. We figured they would be helpful for the next tenants.

So for three false reasons and one vaguely relevant reason, we are being charged £35. I know France has good employee relations laws and their minimum wage might be called high by some, but somehow I don't think stripping beds and cleaning three or four things out of a cupboard would incur £35. Let's see, that's something like €50 which I would imagine would translate to about five hours work, at least.

I'm forced to conclude that the owners are attempting to make a grab for some extra cash. Maybe this year hasn't seen as many bookings as they'd like? Maybe they're just greedy? Regardless, I'm not impressed.

First of all, I dispute the need for any charge. Secondly, I'd at least like to see some evidence that they were indeed charged €50 extra by the cleaning company.

Hot water problems

We had some pretty major problems with the hot water. When you get back from a day's skiing, the last thing you want is a cold shower.

We eventually discovered that the problem is that the owners have installed a timer on the hot water system that uses off-peak electricity. Considering you'll want a shower at the end of the day, rather than in the morning, this seems rather tight of the owners. We resolved this problem by jamming a match stick in the little timer switch to keep it running at all times. Ugly but effective.

That said, there isn't enough hot water anyway. The hot water heater is of the storage kind and, being electric, takes quite a while to heat up. The stored volume of water would probably be adequate for six people, but as the apartment is advertised as being for eight people, it's totally inadequate. Even with three minute showers each, we found we couldn't get through all eight people without someone getting a cold shower.

Linen arrival

This wasn't really much of a problem, but given that they've been arsey about my deposit, I'm going to mention it.

On arrival, the previous tenants' dirty linen hadn't been replaced with fresh clean linen. No instructions were left as to how to resolve this, so we had to make an expensive phone call to the owners to work out what to do. The owner wanted me to go down to town and collect it. Considering we paid a quite substantial "linen fee", I thought this pretty galling. Eventually I persuaded the owners to phone their laundry supplier, and it arrived.

They finally respond

They've finally responded, though not in a particularly nice or polite manner

Date: Thu, 03 Mar 2005 18:07:34 +0000
From: John&Sonia Potts 
To: My email address
Subject: Re: Vallandry Apartment Booking

Simon,

I have read your threatening email and your web-page comments and
would advise you that the content is not only inaccurate but also constitutes
libel with malicious intent.  I am advising you to remove this page
immediately otherwise we will pursue legal action against you.

We intend to make your employers aware at Pilat Media that you have been
constructing a malicious web-page during working hours.


Sonia Potts

      

The threats continue

And the threats go on. Interestingly they're now claiming to have seen the apartment first-hand, when their first email said "our cleaners have said that after your stay the apartment was left in a very poor condition".

From: "John&Sonia Potts" 
To: My email address
Subject: Re: Vallandry Apartment Booking
Date: Thu, 03 Mar 2005 20:03:19 +0000

>From: My email address
>To: John&Sonia Potts 
>Subject: Re: Vallandry Apartment Booking
>Date: Thu, 3 Mar 2005 18:41:01 +0000
>
>This one time, at band camp, John&Sonia Potts wrote:
>
> > I have read your threatening email and your web-page comments and would
> > advise you that the content is not only inaccurate but also constitutes
> > libel with malicious intent.  I am advising you to remove this page
> > immediately otherwise we will pursue legal action against you.
>
>There were no threats involved.  As for libel, well perhaps you could
>point out the inaccuracies?  I asked for your response, very politely,
>and received none.  Perhaps you could respond, point-by-point, to my
>queries.
>
>--
>Rev Simon Rumble 
>www.rumble.net
>
>The Tourist Engineer
>Just because you're on holiday, doesn't mean you're not a geek.
>http://engineer.openguides.org/
>
>"When you wake up to the fact that your paper is Tory,
>  Just remember that there are two sides to every story."
>  - Billy Bragg - It Says Here
><< signature.asc >>
Rev  Simon,
My company lawyer informs.
The content of your  postings on google
is inaccurate and your referance for us to consider the first posting 
clearly posted by you is threatening,The message you are sending- I will 
post false information unless I GET MY MONEY BACK.
We have a copy of the e-mail you sent to your party members ,checking on how 
the appartment was left, having relised that you also mistakenly sent this 
to us, you have removed it.
You have been charged extra , because you left the appartment with rubbish 
still in ,failed to leave surfaces and appliances in a reasonabl;e 
condition, blankets strewn everywhere.
Unfortunatly for you we were the next in and saw  this at first hand .
YOU HAVE ALREADY HAD THIS EXPLAINED TO YOU.
No timer has been installed by us to restrict hot water , where do you get 
your imformation from.
There is always hot water at the end of the day and the heater takes around 
two to three hours to reheat to full temperature, once it has been drained,  
We have had eight in  before and as long as you are careful there is always 
enough, not as much as there would be for four but a lot more than three 
minutes -common sense and how long do you ski for?
We will be speaking with your employer and your hosting company.
Our action continues.

yours sincerley,
John Potts.